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The Albert Schweitzer Library 

The Albert Schweitzer Library, published in association 
with the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities, 
presents new editions of the writings of Albert Schweitzer 
in English translation. The library will reflect the extraor- 
dinary scope of Schweitzer s knowledge and achievements 
in theology, music, history, and humanitarian philosophy. 
It will also restore to print his autobiographical writings 
and include new translations and collections of works never 
published in book form. 

The Quest of the Historical Jesus: A Critical Study of Its 
Progress from Reimarus to Wrede 
The Primeval Forest 
The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle 
Out of My Life and Thought: An Autobiography 

Out of My Life 
and Thought 

An Autobiography 

Albert Schweitzer 

Translated by Antje Bultmann Lemke 
Foreword by President Jimmy Carter 

Preface by Rhena Schweitzer Miller and Antje Bultmann Lemke 

The Johns Hopkins University Press / Baltimore and London 

in association with 

The Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities 

Copyright 1933, 1949 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 

Copyright © 1990 by Rhena Schweitzer Miller 
Translation copyright © 1990 by Antje Bultmann Lemke 
Preface copyright © 1990 by Rhena Schweitzer Miller and 
Antje Bultmann Lemke 

Foreword © 1998 The Johns Hopkins University Press 
All rights reserved 

Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper 

Johns Hopkins Paperbacks edition, 1998 

This edition authorized by Rhena Schweitzer Miller and by the Albert 
Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities, Dr. Harold Robles, President. 

All photographs are courtesy of the Albert Schweitzer Institute for the 

The Johns Hopkins University Press 
2715 North Charles Street 
Baltimore, Maryland 21218-4363 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Pubh’cation Data 

Schweitzer, Albert, 1875-1965. 

[Aus meinem Leben und Denken. English] 

Out of my life and thought : an autobiography / Albert Schweitzer ; trans- 
lated by Antje Bultmann Lemke ; foreword by Jimmy Carter ; preface by 
Rhena Schweitzer Miller and Antje Bultmann Lemke. 
p. cm. — (The Albert Schweitzer library) 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN 0-8018-6097-0 (pbk. : alk. paper) 

1. Schweitzer, Albert, 1875-1965. 2. Strasbourg (France) — Biography. 

3. Missionaries, Medical — Gabon — Lambarene (Moyen-Ogooue) — Biography. 

4. Theologians — Europe — Biography. 5. Musicians — Europe — Biography. 

I. Lemke, Antje Bultmann. II. Title. III. Series. 

CT1018.S45A282 1998 

610'.92 — dc21 

[B] 98-28166 


A catalog record for this book is available from the British Library. 


Foreword, by President Jimmy Carter ix 

Preface, by Rhena Schweitzer Miller and 

Antje Bultmann Lemke xi 

1 Childhood, School, and University 1 

2 Paris and Berlin, 1898-1899 15 

3 The First Years in Strasbourg 24 

4 Study of the Last Supper and the Life of Jesus, 

1900-1902 32 

5 Teaching Activities at the University of 

Strasbourg. The Quest of the Historical Jesus 43 

6 The Historical Jesus and the Christianity 

of Today 53 

7 My Work on Bach 61 

8 On Organs and Organ Building 71 





I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 



My Medical Studies, 1905-1912 



Preparing for Africa 



Literary Studies During My Medical Course 



First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 



Garaison and St. Remy 



Back in Alsace 



Physician and Preacher in Strasbourg 



The Book of African Reminiscences 



Giinsbach and Journeys Abroad 



The Second Period in Africa, 1924-1927 



Two Years in Europe. The Mysticism 
of Paul the Apostle 










Photographs follow page 146. 


Albert Schweitzer brought to the early 
twentieth century one of the most pow- 
erful and wide-ranging intellects the 
world has seen. He not only studied but 
also mastered philosophy, music, theol- 
ogy, and medicine. He even became the 
worlds authority on Bach and organ 
building. Then Dr. Schweitzer demon- 
strated his gratitude for the gifts he had 
been given by devoting the majority of 
his life to relieving the suffering of the 
people of Central Africa. 

Despite an isolation that is hard to 
fathom in our age of easy communica- 
tions, while in Africa Dr. Schweitzer 
stayed current on the affairs of the 

x Foreword 

world and provided commentary on ethics, war, nuclear 
weapons, and environmental degradation. His eclectic inter- 
ests benefited not only Africa but the entire world. 

President Jimmy Carter 


“I want to be the pioneer of a new 
Renaissance. I want to throw faith in 
a new humanity like a burning torch 
into our dark times.” So Albert 
Schweitzer proclaimed in the preface 
to his book Civilization and Ethics in 
1923 . 

Out of My Life and Thought, the 
book he considered his most impor- 
tant, provides the key to understand- 
ing the man, his thought, and his work. 
It is the testimony of this pioneer 
whose philosophy of respect for all life 
is essential if we are to succeed in mov- 
ing from the dark ages of religious and 


xii Preface 

political strife toward a new Renaissance embracing the 
recognition of human rights, of environmental responsibil- 
ities, and of political interdependence. 

In this book he describes how he became Schweitzer the 
theologian, the philosopher, the musician, and the medical 
doctor. The many facets of his personality, his abundance 
of knowledge in such different fields made him the active 
and spiritual center of his hospital in Lambarene and a 
figure of worldwide influence and recognition. 

As to the origin of his autobiography, he told the readers 
of the first edition of 1931: “In 1925 I wrote a forty-two- 
page account for the seventh volume of the scholarly series 
Contemporary Philosophy in Self-Portraits, published by 
Felix Meiner in Leipzig. . . . When this treatise was pub- 
lished as a separate book, many readers took it to be an 
account of my whole life and thought. To remedy this mis- 
conception I decided to complete the initial study in such 
a way that it would tell not only about my scholarly work 
but also about my life and thought in general. 

Out of My Life and Thought is the only book Schweitzer 
completed in Africa, and thirty years later he wrote to 
a friend in Paris: “That I was able to write this book I 
owe to the two physicians who assisted me in Lambarene. 
When they heard about the publisher’s interest, they of- 
fered to take over some of my work so I could be at the 
hospital only in the morning. By writing every afternoon 
and until midnight, I was able to complete the manuscript 
in five months. Later on I could never have taken so 
much time off to concentrate on my writing. It gave me 
the opportunity to express my thoughts on religion, on 
philosophy and the arts, and to pave the way for my re- 
flections on the principle of Reverence for Life, which can 

Preface xiii 

motivate us to return to a civilization that is determined 
by humanism.” 

The first German edition of 1931 was translated by 
Schweitzer’s friend C. T. Campion and published in 1933 
by Allen & Unwin in London and by Henry Holt in New 
York. Other translations followed, and at last count there 
were nineteen, from Chinese and Czech to Tamil and Tu- 
legu. Some translations, for example that of 1959 in Oriyan, 
an Indian language, include prefatory letters by Hermann 
Hesse and Pere Dominique Pire. 

According to the notes in Schweitzer’s personal German 
copy, a French translation was intended as early as 1932. 
Yet, as with several unfinished manuscripts, he did not find 
the time to devote to this project. 

In 1953 another attempt at a French edition was made, 
when Madeleine France translated the German original. 
Schweitzer wanted to review the manuscript before its 
publication but he had other priorities. With his accep- 
tance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1954, his eightieth birth- 
day in 1955, and his appeal in 1957 for a nuclear test ban, 
his days and nights were filled with correspondence and 
preparation of lectures, which were of pressing concern 
to him. 

Finally, in 1959, during his last sojourn in Europe, 
Schweitzer spent three weeks in Paris. With his friend and 
collaborator Robert Minder he edited the French transla- 
tion, which was published in 1960 by Albin Michel in Paris. 
When Schweitzer received the first copy in Lambarene in 
January 1960 he immediately wrote to the publisher, plead- 
ing for removal of the wrapper that read: “Le grand docteur 
vous parle.” This statement, “The great doctor speaks to 
you,” reminded Schweitzer of Hitler’s announcement “Le 

xiv Preface 

Fiihrer vous parle,” to which the French had been exposed 
two decades earlier. 

The French edition contains several changes from the 
German original, especially the deletion of passages 
Schweitzer considered either too technical — such as some 
of his reflections on theological subjects — or displeasing to 
the French reader. This edition has been most helpful in 
the preparation of the new English translation, since many 
convoluted German sentences and long paragraphs were 
rephrased and broken up. Some phrases have been re- 
placed by precise, more assertive statements. 

In addition to the French version, the new English trans- 
lation is based on a copy of the German edition in the 
Archives Centrales Albert Schweitzer at Giinsbach, which 
contains Schweitzer’s own corrections, made between 1930 
and 1960. 

Cognizant of the fact that it is impossible to give an 
identical rendering of any literary text in a second language, 
this translation aims to be as faithful as possible to the 
author’s own style. No attempt has been made to change 
Schweitzer’s expressions, to “degenderize” or otherwise 
adjust the language in accordance with current trends. Spe- 
cial care has been taken with Schweitzer’s explication of 
his philosophy and theology. Where the earlier version 
freely substituted reason for spirit, scientific for scholarly, 
dogmatic for orthodox, the original meaning of the German 
expression has been chosen. An Evangelische Gemeinde is 
a “Protestant parish” and not a group of Evangelical be- 
lievers, and when Schweitzer speaks about die Welt he 
intends to include the whole world and not only mankind. 
Thus, the new translation hopes to clarify ambiguities and 
to come as close as possible to Schweitzer’s language, his 
intentions, and his philosophy. 

Preface xv 

A chronology of the life of Albert Schweitzer, which fol- 
lows the text, gives a quick overview of major events and 
completes the autobiography for the period until his death 
in 1965. For readers interested in other books by and about 
Schweitzer, a bibliography of selected titles in English has 
been included. 

We want to express our deep gratitude to Gustav Woytt, 
a nephew of Schweitzer, who had worked for him for many 
years. He was familiar with the development and different 
translations of this book and graciously shared his knowl- 
edge. We owe to him and to the generous cooperation of 
the Archives Centrales Albert Schweitzer in Giinsbach, 
France, that we have a broader knowledge of the genesis 
of this book. 

Our warmest thanks go to Miss Elizabeth Gempp, who 
has encouraged and generously supported the preparation 
of this new edition. For the typing and editing we would 
like to express our gratitude to Eileen Snyder and Margaret 

Last but not least we would like to thank the members 
of Henry Holt and Company, especially Mr. John Macrae 
for the enthusiasm with which he received the manuscript, 
and his advice throughout the publishing process, and Amy 
Robbins for her perceptive suggestions and expert copy 

For the photographs we are indebted to the Archives 
Centrales Albert Schweitzer in Giinsbach, France, the Al- 
bert Schweitzer Center in Great Barrington, Massachu- 
setts, and the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in New York. 

As we move toward a new century it is amazing to see 
how the spirit of Albert Schweitzer has retained its fresh- 
ness and authenticity. His life and thought, nurtured by 
German and French culture and by the philosophies of East 

xvi Preface 

and West, and forged by human service in Europe and 
Africa, can point the way toward a global society. 

Rhena Schweitzer Miller 
Antje Bultmann Lemke 


Childhood, School, 
and University 

I was bom on January 14, 1875, at Kay- 
sersberg in Upper Alsace, the second 
child of Louis Schweitzer, who at that 
time served as minister for the little 
flock of Protestants in that Catholic 
place. My paternal grandfather was 
schoolmaster and organist at Pfaflfen- 
hofen in Lower Alsace, and three of 
his brothers occupied similar posts. 
My mother, Adele, nee Schillinger, 
was a daughter of the pastor of Mtihl- 
bach in the Munster Valley, Upper Al- 

A few weeks after my birth my father 
moved to Giinsbach in the Munster 



Valley. Here with my three sisters and one brother I spent 
a happy childhood overshadowed only by my father’s fre- 
quent illnesses. His health improved later on, however, 
and as a sturdy septuagenarian he looked after his parish 
during the war under the fire of the French guns that Swept 
the valley from the heights of the Vosges mountains, de- 
stroying many a house and killing many an inhabitant of 
Gunsbach. He died at a ripe old age in 1925. My mother 
had been run over and killed by cavalry horses on the road 
between Gunsbach and Weier-im-Tal in 1916. 

When I was five years old my father began giving me 
music lessons on the old square piano that we had inherited 
from grandfather Schillinger. He had no great technical 
skill but improvised charmingly. When I was seven I sur- 
prised our teacher by playing hymn tunes on the harmo- 
nium with harmonies I supplied myself. At eight, when my 
legs were hardly long enough to reach the pedals, I began 
to play the organ. My passion for that instrument was in- 
herited from my grandfather Schillinger, who had been 
much interested in organs and organ building, and, as my 
mother told me, had a reputation for improvising magnif- 
icently. In every town he visited, he made a point of getting 
to know its organs. When the famous organ was installed 
in the Stiftskirche at Lucerne he journeyed there to see its 
builder at work. 

I was nine years old when I was permitted for the first 
time to substitute for the organist at a service at Gunsbach. 

Till the autumn of 1884 I went to the Gunsbach village 
school. After that, for a year I was at the Realschule (which 
is a secondary school giving no instruction in classical lan- 
guages) at Munster, and there I had private lessons in Latin 
to prepare me for entering the fifth class in the Gymnasium. 

Childhood, School, and University 3 

In the autumn of 1885 I entered the Gymnasium at M til- 
hausen in Alsace. My godfather, Louis Schweitzer, my 
grandfather’s half brother, who was director of the primary 
schools in that town, was kind enough to take me to live 
with him. Otherwise my father, who had nothing beyond 
his slender stipend on which to bring up his large family, 
could hardly have afforded to send me to a Gymnasium. 

The strict discipline to which I was subjected in the house 
of my great-uncle and his wife, who had no children of their 
own, was very good for me. It is with deep gratitude that 
I always think of all the kindness I received from them. 

Although it had cost me some trouble to learn to read 
and write, I had got on fairly well in school at Gtinsbach 
and Mtinster. At the Gymnasium, however, I was at first 
a poor scholar. This was owing not solely to my being slack 
and dreamy but partly also to the fact that my private les- 
sons in Latin had not prepared me sufficiently for the fifth 
class, in which I entered the school. It was only when my 
teacher in the fourth. Dr. Wehmann, showed me how to 
study properly and gave me some self-confidence that 
things went better. But Dr. Wehmann’s influence over me 
was due above all to the fact, of which I became aware 
during my first days in his class, that he prepared every 
lesson he gave very carefully in advance. He became a 
model of fulfillment of duty for me. I visited him many 
times in later life. When, toward the end of the war, I went 
to Strasbourg, where he lived during the latter part of his 
life, I at once inquired after him. I learned, however, that 
starvation had ruined his nervous system and that he had 
taken his own life. 

My music teacher at Mtilhausen was Eugene Mtinch, the 
young organist at the Reformed Church of St. Stephen. 


This was his first post after leaving the Academy of Music 
at Berlin, where he had been seized by the then reawak- 
ening enthusiasm for Bach. I owe it to him that I became 
acquainted in my early years with the works of the cantor 
of St. Thomas and from my fifteenth year onward enjoyed 
the privilege of sound instruction on the organ. When, in 
the autumn of 1898, he died of typhoid fever in the flower 
of his age, I perpetuated his memory in a booklet written 
in French. It was published in Miilhausen, and was the 
first product of my pen to appear in print. 

At the Gymnasium I was chiefly interested in history and 
natural science. In languages and mathematics it took a 
great deal of effort for me to accomplish anything. But after 
a time I felt a certain fascination in mastering subjects for 
which I had no special talent. Consequently, in the upper 
classes I was considered one of the better students, though 
not one of the best. With essays, however, if I remember 
rightly, I was usually the first. 

In the first class we were taught Latin and Greek by the 
distinguished director of the Gymnasium, Wilhelm Deecke 
of Liibeck. His lessons were not the dry instruction of a 
mere linguist; they introduced us to ancient philosophy 
while giving us glimpses into contemporary thought. He 
was an enthusiastic follower of Schopenhauer. 

On June 18, 1893, I passed my final examinations. In the 
written papers I did not do very well, not even in the essay. 
In the oral examination, however, I attracted the attention 
of the chairman of the board of examiners — Dr. Albrecht 
of Strasbourg — with my knowledge of history and my his- 
torical judgment. A “very good” in history, substantiated 
by some words of praise, adorned my diploma, which oth- 
erwise was quite mediocre. 

In October of the same year, the generosity of my father’s 

Childhood, School, and University 5 

elder brother, a businessman in Paris, secured for me the 
privilege of organ instruction from the Parisian organist 
Charles-Marie Widor. My teacher at Miilhausen had taught 
me so well that Widor, after hearing me play, took me as 
a pupil, although he normally confined his instruction to 
members of the organ class at the Conservatory. This in- 
struction was for me an event of decisive importance. Widor 
presided over a fundamental improvement in my technique 
and made me strive to attain perfect plasticity in playing. 
At the same time, thanks to him, the meaning of the ar- 
chitectonic in music became clear to me. 

My first lesson with Widor happened to be on the sunny 
October day when the Russian sailors under Admiral Av- 
ellan arrived in Paris for the visit that was the first mani- 
festation of the Franco-Russian friendship then beginning. 
I was delayed by the closely packed, expectant crowds that 
filled the boulevards and the central streets, and was very 
late in reaching the master’s house. 

At the end of October 1893, I entered the University of 
Strasbourg. I lived in the theological seminary of St. 
Thomas (the Collegium Wilhelmitanum), the principal of 
which was the learned Reverend Alfred Erichson. Just at 
that time he was occupied with the completion of his great 
edition of the works of Calvin. 

The University of Strasbourg, recently founded, already 
had a fine reputation. Unhampered by tradition, teachers 
and students alike strove to realize the ideal of a modern 
university. There were hardly any older professors among 
the faculty. A fresh breeze of youthfulness animated the 
whole university. 

I took the two subjects of theology and philosophy to- 


gether. As I had learned only the elements of Hebrew in 
the Gymnasium, my first term was spoiled by work for the 
“Hebraicum” (the preliminary examination in Hebrew), 
which I passed with much effort on February 17, 1894. 
Later, spurred on again by the effort to master what did 
not come easily to me, I acquired a sound knowledge of 
that language. 

Anxiety about the Hebraicum did not prevent me from 
eagerly attending the lectures by Heinrich Julius Holtz- 
mann on the Synoptics — that is to say, the three first Gos- 
pels — and others by Wilhelm Windelband and Theobald 
Ziegler on the history of philosophy. 

On April 1, 1894, I began my year of military service, 
but the kindness of my captain, Krull by name, made it 
possible for me to be at the university by eleven o’clock 
almost every day, and so to attend Windelband’s lectures. 

When in the autumn of 1894 we went on maneuvers in 
the neighborhood of Hochfelden (Lower Alsace), I put my 
Greek Testament in my knapsack. I should explain that at 
the beginning of the winter term, those theological students 
who wished to compete for a scholarship had to pass an 
examination in three subjects. Those, however, who were 
then doing their military service had only to take one. I 
chose the synoptic Gospels. 

I took my Greek New Testament with me to maneuvers 
so I would not disgrace myself with a poor performance 
before Holtzmann, whom I admired very much. At that 
time I was robust and did not know fatigue, so I could study 
in the evenings and on holidays. During the summer I had 
gone through Holtzmann’s commentary. Now I wanted to 
get to know the text and see how much I remembered of 
his commentary and his lectures. This produced an amazing 

Childhood, School, and University 7 

discovery. Holtzmann had gained recognition in scholarly 
circles for his hypothesis that the Gospel of Mark is the 
oldest, and that its plan serves as the basis for Matthew 
and Luke. That seemed to justify the conclusion that the 
public activities of Jesus can only be understood through 
Mark’s Gospel. This conclusion puzzled me deeply. On one 
of the rest days, which we spent in the village of Guggen- 
heim, I concentrated on the tenth and eleventh chapters 
of Matthew, and became aware of the significance of what 
is narrated in those two chapters by him alone, and not by 
Mark as well. 

In the tenth chapter of Matthew the mission of the twelve 
disciples is narrated. As Jesus sends them out He tells them 
that they will almost immediately suffer severe persecution. 
But nothing of the kind happens. 

He tells them also that the appearance of the Son of Man 
will take place before they have gone through the cities of 
Israel, which can only mean that the heavenly Messianic 
Kingdom is dawning. He has therefore no expectation of 
seeing them return. 

How is it possible that Jesus leads His disciples to expect 
events that do not take place? 

I was dissatisfied with Holtzmann’s explanation that we 
are dealing not with a historical discourse about Jesus but 
with one made up at a later date, after His death, out of 
various “Sayings of Jesus. ” A later generation would never 
have gone so far as to put into His mouth words that were 
belied by the subsequent course of events. 

The bare text compelled me to assume that Jesus was 
really announcing the persecution of the disciples, which 
would then be followed by the appearance of the super- 
natural Son of Man. This announcement, however, was 
proven wrong by subsequent events. 


But how did He come to entertain such an expectation, 
and what must His feelings have been when events turned 
out otherwise than He had assumed they would? 

Matthew 11 records the Baptist’s question to Jesus, and 
the answer Jesus gave him. Here too it seemed to me that 
Holtzmann and the commentators in general do not suffi- 
ciently appreciate the riddles of the text. Whom does the 
Baptist mean when he asks Jesus whether He is “the one 
who is to come”? Is it then quite certain, I asked myself, 
that by the Coming One no one can be meant except the 
Messiah? According to late Jewish Messianic beliefs, the 
coming of the Messiah is to be preceded by that of his 
Forerunner, Elijah, risen from the dead, and to this pre- 
viously expected Elijah Jesus applies the expression “the 
Coming One,” when He tells the people around Him (Mat- 
thew 11:14) that the Baptist himself is Elijah who is to come. 
Therefore, I concluded, the Baptist in his question used 
the expression with that same meaning. He did not send 
his disciples to Jesus to ask Him whether He was the Mes- 
siah; he wanted to learn from Him, strange as it may seem 
to us, whether He was the expected Forerunner of the 
Messiah, Elijah. 

But why does Jesus not give him a clear answer to his 
question? To say that He gave an evasive answer in order 
to test the Baptist’s faith avoids the issue and has been the 
source of many a poor sermon. It is much simpler to assume 
that Jesus avoided saying either yes or no because He was 
not yet ready to make public who He believed Himself to 
be. From every point of view the account of the Baptist’s 
question proves that at that time none of those who believed 
in Jesus held Him to be the Messiah. Had He already been 
accepted in any way as the Messiah, the Baptist would have 
indicated this in his question. 

Another reason for finding a new interpretation came 
from the words of Jesus, addressed to the crowd after the 

Childhood, School, and University 9 

departure of the Baptist’s messengers. “Among those bom 
of women there has risen no one greater than John the 
Baptist; yet he who is least in the Kingdom of Heaven is 
greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). 

The usual explanation — that in these words Jesus ex- 
pressed a criticism of the Baptist and placed him at a level 
below that of the believers assembled round Him as ad- 
herents of the Kingdom of God — seemed to me both un- 
satisfying and tasteless, for these believers were also born 
of women. By giving up this explanation I was forced into 
the supposition that, in contrasting the Baptist with mem- 
bers of the Kingdom of God, Jesus was taking into account 
the difference between the natural world and the super- 
natural Messianic world. As a man in the condition into 
which all men enter at birth, the Baptist is the greatest of 
all who have ever lived. But members of the Kingdom of 
Heaven are no longer natural men; through the dawning 
of the Messianic Kingdom they have experienced a change 
that has raised them to a supernatural condition akin to 
that of the angels. Because they are now supernatural 
beings, the least among them is greater than the greatest 
man who has ever appeared in the natural world of the age 
that is now passing away. John the Baptist does, indeed, 
belong to this Kingdom either as a great or a humble mem- 
ber of it. Yet his greatness, unique and surpassing that of 
all other humans, lies in the fact that he became incarnate 
in this natural world. 

Thus, at the end of my first year at the university, I was 
troubled by the explanation then accepted as historically 
correct of the words and actions of Jesus when He sent the 
disciples out on their mission. As a consequence of this, I 
also questioned the interpretation that viewed the whole 
life of Jesus as historical. 


When I reached home after maneuvers, entirely new 
horizons had opened up for me. Of this I was certain: that 
Jesus had annouced not a kingdom that was to be founded 
and realized in the natural world by Himself and the be- 
lievers, but one that was to be expected as coming with 
the approaching dawn of a supernatural age. 

I would of course have considered it presumptuous to 
hint to Holtzmann in my examination, which I took shortly 
afterward, that I distrusted his conception of the life of 
Jesus, which was universally shared by the critical school 
of that time. In any case, I had no opportunity to do so. 
With his well-known kindness he treated me, a young stu- 
dent hindered in my studies by military service, so gently 
that in the twenty-minute interview he demanded from me 
nothing beyond a summary comparison of the contents of 
the first three Gospels. 

In my remaining years at the university I pursued, often 
to the neglect of my other subjects, independent research 
on the Gospels and on the problems of the life of Jesus. 
Through these studies I became increasingly convinced that 
the key to the riddles awaiting solution is to be looked for 
in the explanation of the words of Jesus when He sent the 
disciples out on their mission, in the question sent by the 
Baptist from his prison, and, finally, in the way Jesus acts 
upon the return of the disciples. 

How grateful I was that the German university does not 
supervise the student too closely in his studies, nor keep 
him breathless through constant examinations, as is the case 
in other countries, but offers him the opportunity for in- 
dependent scholarly work! 

The Strasbourg theological faculty of that day had a dis- 
tinctly liberal character. Aside from Holtzmann there was 

Childhood, School, and University 11 

Karl Budde, the Old Testament specialist, who had recently 
come to Strasbourg and was my favorite theology teacher. 
What especially pleased me about him was his simple yet 
graceful presentation of his scholarly research. I found his 
lectures an aesthetic delight. 

Along with the lectures in theology I regularly attended 
those in philosophy. 

I studied music theory under Jacobsthal, a pupil of Bel- 
lermann, who in his one-sidedness refused to acknowledge 
as art any music after Beethoven’s. Pure counterpoint, how- 
ever, one could learn thoroughly from him, and I have 
much to thank him for. 

In my musical development I owed much to Ernest 
Munch, a brother of my Miilhausen teacher, who was or- 
ganist of St. Wilhelm’s in Strasbourg and conductor at the 
Bach concerts he started with the choir of St. Wilhelm’s. 
He entrusted to me the organ accompaniment of the can- 
tatas and the Passion music. At first I played only at the 
rehearsals, in place of his Miilhausen brother, who then 
took my place at the actual performances. Before long, 
however, I also played at the performances if his brother 
could not come. In this way, while I was still a young 
student, I became familiar with the work of Bach and had 
an opportunity to deal with the practical problems of pro- 
ducing the master’s cantatas and Passion music. 

St. Wilhelm’s Church in Strasbourg ranked at that time 
as one of the most important centers of the Bach renaissance 
that was beginning to emerge at the end of the century. 
Ernest Munch had an extraordinary knowledge of the works 
of the cantor of St. Thomas. He was one of the first to 
abandon the modernized rendering of the cantatas and the 
Passion music that had become universal at the end of the 


nineteenth century, and he strove for performances in a 
purer style, with his small choir accompanied by the famous 
Strasbourg orchestra. Many an evening we sat with the 
scores of the cantatas and the Passion music and discussed 
the correct method of rendering them. Ernest Munch’s 
successor as conductor at these concerts was his son Fritz 
Munch, the director of the Strasbourg Conservatory. 

My veneration for Bach was matched by the same feeling 
for Richard Wagner. When I was a schoolboy at Miilhausen, 
at the age of sixteen I was allowed for the first time to go 
to the theater, and there I heard Wagner’s Tannhauser. 
This music overpowered me to such an extent that it was 
days before I was capable of giving proper attention to my 
lessons in school. 

In Strasbourg, where the operatic performances con- 
ducted by Otto Lohse were outstanding, I had the oppor- 
tunity of becoming thoroughly familiar with the whole of 
Wagner’s works, except, of course, Parsifal, which at that 
time could only be performed at Bayreuth. It was a great 
experience for me to be present in Bayreuth in 1896, at 
the memorable new performance of the tetralogy, the first 
since the original in 1876. Parisian friends had given me 
tickets. To pay for the journey I had to content myself with 
one meal a day. 

Today, if I experience a Wagner performance with all 
sorts of stage effects clamoring for attention alongside the 
music, as though it were a film show, I cannot help thinking 
with regret of the earlier mise-en-scene of the tetralogy at 
Bayreuth, the very simplicity of which made it so marvel- 
ously effective. Not only the staging but the whole perfor- 
mance was in the spirit of the departed master. 

Both as singer and actor Yogi, as Loge, made the deepest 

Childhood, School, and University 13 

impression on me. From the moment of his appearance he 
dominated the stage without perceptibly having to do any- 
thing to draw attention to himself. He did not wear the 
harlequin dress of modem players, nor did he dance round 
the stage to the rhythm of the Loge motif, as is the fashion 
today. The only thing about him that was striking was his 
red cloak. The only movements he executed to the rhythm 
of the music were those with which, as if acting under some 
compulsion, he threw his cloak now over one shoulder, 
now over the other, his gaze fixed on what was happening 
around him, yet himself quite indifferent to it all. Thus he 
plainly stood for the restless force of destruction among the 
gods, who were marching forward, blindly, to their doom. 

My student years at Strasbourg passed quickly. At the end 
of the summer of 1897 I presented myself for the first 
theological examination. As the topic for the so-called thesis 
we were given: “A comparison of Schleiermacher’s concept 
of the Last Supper with that of the New Testament and the 
professions of faith of the Reformers.” The thesis was an 
exercise assigned to all candidates alike and had to be fin- 
ished within eight weeks. It determined whether one would 
be admitted to the examination. 

This task led me back again to the problem of the Gospels 
and the life of Jesus. All dogmatic and historical interpre- 
tations of the Last Supper, which I had to review for my 
final examination, seemed unsatisfactory. None addressed 
the significance of the historical celebration of Jesus with 
His disciples and of the origin of the primitive Christian 
ceremony of the Communion. A remark of Schleiermacher 
in the section of his famous Dogmatics in which he treats 


the Last Supper gave me much to think about. He points 
out that according to the accounts of the Last Supper in 
Matthew and Mark, Jesus did not charge the disciples to 
repeat the meal. We must therefore familiarize ourselves 
as well as we can with the thought that the repetition of 
the celebration in the primitive community goes back only 
to the disciples and not to Jesus Himself. This thought, 
which Schleiermacher presented in a brilliant piece of rea- 
soning but did not pursue to the limit of its possible his- 
torical consequences, preoccupied me even after I had 
completed the thesis for my candidature. 

If, I said to myself, the command to repeat the meal is 
absent from the two oldest Gospels, that means that the 
disciples did in fact repeat it, with the body of believers, 
on their own initiative and authority. That, however, they 
could do only if there was something in the nature of this 
last meal that made it significant apart from the words and 
actions of Jesus. But, since no past or current explanations 
of the Last Supper have made intelligible how it was 
adopted in the primitive community without a command 
from Jesus, I had to conclude that the problem of the Last 
Supper was unresolved. Thus, I went on to investigate the 
question of whether the significance of the meal for Jesus 
and His disciples was not connected with the expectation 
of the Messianic feast to be celebrated in the Kingdom of 
God, which was soon to appear. 

Paris and Berlin, 


On May 6, 1898, I passed the first 
theological examination, the official 
state examination, and then spent the 
whole of the summer in Strasbourg to 
devote myself entirely to philosophy. 
During this time I lived in the house 
at the Old Fish Market (No. 36) in 
which Goethe had lived while he was 
a student at Strasbourg. 

Windelband and Ziegler were emi- 
nent teachers in their subjects. Win- 
delband’s strength lay in ancient phil- 
osophy, and his seminars on Plato 
and Aristotle are among the best mem- 
ories of my student days. Ziegler’s do- 



main was ethics and the philosophy of religion. For the 
latter he was especially well prepared through his earlier 
studies in theology at the “Stift,” the Protestant seminary 
at Tubingen. 

After my examination, at the request of Holtzmann I was 
given the Goll scholarship, which was administered by the 
St. Thomas Chapter and the theological faculty jointly. Its 
value was twelve hundred marks (six hundred dollars) an- 
nually, and it was awarded for six-year periods. The recip- 
ient was under an obligation either to take, in six years at 
the most, the degree of licentiate in theology at Strasbourg 
or to repay the money he had received. 

On the advice of Theobald Ziegler, I determined that I 
would work first on a dissertation toward the doctoral de- 
gree in philosophy. At the end of the term, he suggested, 
in a conversation held on the steps of the University of 
Strasbourg under his umbrella, that my subject should be 
the religious philosophy of Kant, a suggestion I found most 
attractive. Toward the end of October 1898, I went to Paris 
to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, and to continue my 
organ lessons under Widor. 

I did not attend many lectures in Paris. To begin with, 
the unceremonious way in which the matriculation was 
conducted annoyed me. The antiquated method of instruc- 
tion, which made it impossible for the faculty, however 
outstanding in quality, to give their best, also contributed 
to making the Sorbonne disappointing. There were no com- 
prehensive courses such as I had been accustomed to at 
Strasbourg. Either the professors gave lectures that bore 
solely on the examination syllabus or they lectured on spe- 
cial subjects. 

At the Protestant theological faculty (on the Boulevard 

Paris and Berlin, 1898-1899 17 

Arago), I sometimes heard lectures on doctrine by Louis 
Auguste Sabatier and others by the New Testament scholar 
Louis Eug&ne Menegoz. I felt great esteem for them both. 
But on the whole that winter in Paris was devoted to music 
and to my dissertation for the doctorate. 

With Widor — who now gave me lessons without 
charge — I worked at the organ, and under Isidore Philipp, 
who a little later became a teacher at the Conservatory, at 
the piano. At the same time I was a pupil of Franz Liszt’s 
talented pupil and friend Marie Jaell-Trautmann, an Al- 
satian by birth. She had already retired from a life of public 
piano recitals, at which, for a short time, she shone as a 
star of the first magnitude. She now dedicated herself to 
the study of the physiological aspects of piano playing. I 
was the guinea pig on which she tried her experiments, 
which were made in cooperation with the physiologist F6r6, 
so I participated in them. How much I owe to this gifted 

The finger — so her theory goes — must be as frilly conscious 
as possible of its relationship to the keys. The player must 
be conscious of the tension and of the relaxation of the 
muscles from the shoulder down to the fingertips. He must 
learn to prevent all involuntary and all unconscious move- 
ments. Finger exercises that aim merely at rapidity must 
be renounced. As the finger prepares for a motion, it must 
always try to project the desired sound. A resonant touch 
is realized by the quickest and lightest possible depression 
of the keys. But the finger must also be conscious of the 
way it lets the depressed key rise again. In the depression 
and releasing of the keys the finger finds itself in an im- 
perceptibly rolling movement, either inward (toward the 
thumb) or outward (toward the little finger). When several 


keys are depressed one after another, with movements roll- 
ing in the same direction, the corresponding tones and 
chords are organically linked. 

Tones produced by movements that roll in different di- 
rections stay apart by their very nature. Through thought- 
fully differentiated movements of the fingers and of the 
hand, one can attain both differentiation of sonority and 
sensitivity to phrasing. To achieve an ever more conscious 
and ever closer relationship with the keys, the finger must 
cultivate to the utmost its sensitivity to their touch. With 
the perfecting of this sensitivity the player will become at 
the same time more responsive both to tone color and to 
color in general. 

Marie Jaell pushed this theory to the extreme by pro- 
claiming that through the appropriate development of the 
hand nonmusical people could become musical. Starting 
from the physiology of the piano touch, she wanted to ad- 
vance a theory about the nature of art in general. She thus 
obscured her correct and forceful observations about the 
essence of artful touch with deep, often baroque-sounding 
observations and deprived herself of the recognition her 
research deserved. 

Under Marie Jaell’s guidance I completely transformed my 
hand. I owe it to her that by well-directed, time-saving 
practice I became increasingly master of my fingers to the 
great benefit of my organ playing. 

The more traditional piano instruction I received from 
Philipp was also extraordinarily valuable and protected me 
from what was one-sided in the Jaell method. As my two 
teachers had a poor opinion of each other, I had to keep 
each from knowing that I was a pupil of the other. What 
trouble it cost me to play with Marie Jaell in the morning 
k la Jaell and with Philipp in the afternoon k la Philipp! 

Paris and Berlin, 1898-1899 19 

With Philipp and Widor I am still united in a firm bond 
of friendship; Marie Jaell died in 1925. Through Widor I 
met many interesting personalities in the Paris of that day. 
He was also concerned about my material welfare. Many 
a time, if he had the impression that my slender purse did 
not provide me with enough to eat adequately, he took me 
after my lesson to his regular haunt, the Restaurant Foyot 
near the Luxembourg, so I might have a satisfying meal. 

My father s two brothers and their wives, who had settled 
in Paris, also showed me much kindness. The younger one, 
Charles, who had made a name for himself as a linguist 
through his efforts to improve the teaching of modern lan- 
guages, put me in touch with people at the university. Thus 
I was able to feel at home in Paris. 

My thesis for the doctorate suffered in no way from the 
demands made on me, either by my art or by my social 
life, for my good health allowed me to be prodigal with 
nocturnal labor. It happened sometimes that I played for 
Widor in the morning without having been to bed at all. 

To consult the literature on Kant’s philosophy of religion 
in the Bibliothbque Nationale proved to be impracticable 
because of the cumbersome regulations in the reading 
room. I therefore resolved without further ado to write the 
thesis without troubling about the literature, and to see 
what results I could obtain by burying myself in the Kantian 
writings themselves. 

As I studied these texts, I noticed variations in his use of 
language; for example, in several passages on religious is- 
sues in his Critique of Pure Reason the word intelligible, 
which corresponds to Kant’s basic criticism, is replaced by 


the more naive term transcendental. I then traced all 
expressions of significance throughout his works on the phi- 
losophy of religion in order to find the context in which 
they appear, and to see whether they had undergone some 
change in meaning. This enabled me to prove that the long 
section on the “Canon of Pure Reason” is not a part of the 
Critique of Pure Reason, but actually an earlier work of 
Kant that he included there, although it does not agree 
with what came later. The earlier study he called “A Sketch 
of the Philosophy of Religion.” 

Another discovery was that Kant never developed any 
further the religiophilosophical scheme of transcendental 
dialectic found in the Critique of Pure Reason. His religious 
philosophy in the Critique of Practical Reason, with 
its three postulates of God, Freedom, and Immortality, is 
not at all the same as that hinted at in the Critique of 
Pure Reason. In the Critique of Judgment and in Religion 
Within the Limits of Reason Alone, he abandoned the reli- 
gious philosophy of the three postulates. The train of 
thought that appears in these later works leads one back 
once more to the path taken in the “Sketch of the Philos- 
ophy of Religion.” 

Kant’s philosophy of religion, then, which everyone re- 
garded as identical to that of the three postulates, is in fact 
constantly changing. This is because the presuppositions of 
his critical idealism and the religiophilosophical claims of 
the moral law are incompatible. In Kant’s work his critical 
and his ethical philosophies of religion developed in tan- 
dem, as he sought to adjust and reconcile both. In the 
transcendental dialectic of the Critique of Pure Reason he 
thought he had unified them without difficulty. But the 
scheme he designed does not work because Kant, rather 
than staying with his earlier concept of the moral law, as 
prefigured in the transcendental dialectic of the Critique 
of Pure Reason, enriches it constantly. This more profound 
conception of moral law raises religious questions, however, 

Paris and Berlin, 1898—1899 21 

which go beyond what can be found in Kant’s conception 
of religious idealism. At the point where his religious phi- 
losophy acquires its more profound moral law, it loses its 
interest in the very convictions that occupy the foremost 
place in critical idealism; significantly in this connection, 
when Kant’s religious thought is most completely domi- 
nated by his deepest ethic, the postulate of Immortality 
plays no part. Instead, then, of keeping to the philosophy 
of religion established by critical idealism, Kant allows him- 
self to be led further away from it by the religious philos- 
ophy of his ever deepening moral law. As he becomes more 
profound, he is unable to remain consistent. 

In the middle of March 1899, I returned to Strasbourg and 
presented my completed study to Theobald Ziegler. He 
approved it and scheduled the defense of my dissertation 
for the end of July. 

I spent the summer of 1899 in Berlin, mainly occupied with 
reading philosophy. My goal was to have read all the chief 
works of ancient and modem philosophy. At the same time 
I attended lectures by Hamack, Pfleiderer, Kaftan, Paul- 
sen, and Simmel. At Simmel’s lectures I was at first an 
occasional, but afterward a regular, auditor. 

It was only later that I established contact with Hamack, 
whose History of Dogma I had read in Strasbourg with 
great enthusiasm. I had been introduced to him by friends, 
and I visited his home. I was so overawed by his knowledge 
and the universality of his interests that I was too inhibited 
to answer his questions adequately when he spoke to me. 
Later in life I received from him many postcards, cordial 
and full of substance. The postcard was his usual means of 


correspondence. Two very detailed cards that I received at 
Lambarene about my then just published book, The Mys- 
ticism of Paul the Apostle, belong to the year 1930 and must 
be among the last that he ever wrote. 

I spent a great deal of time with Carl Stumpf. His psy- 
chological studies on auditory sensitivity were of great in- 
terest to me. I participated regularly in the experiments 
he and his assistants performed, and again I served as 
guinea pig, as I had done with Marie Jaell in Strasbourg. 

The Berlin organists, with the exception of Egidi, dis- 
appointed me somewhat because they were more inter- 
ested in virtuosity than in the true plasticity of style to 
which Widor attached so much importance. And how dull 
and dry was the sound of the new Berlin organs compared 
with that of Cavaille-Col’s instruments in St. Sulpice and 
Notre Dame. 

Professor Heinrich Reimann, the organist of the Kaiser 
Wilhelm Memorial Church, to whom I had brought a letter 
of introduction from Widor, allowed me to play the organ 
regularly, and engaged me as his deputy when he went 
away on holiday. Thanks to him I made the acquaintance 
of some of the musicians, painters, and sculptors of Berlin. 

I became acquainted with the academic world at the 
home of the widow of Ernst Curtius, the well-known Hel- 
lenist. She received me cordially as an acquaintance of her 
stepson, the district superintendent of Colmar. There I 
often met Hermann Grimm, who tried hard to convert me 
from the heresy that the contents of the fourth Gospel are 
not reconcilable with those of the first three. To this day I 
consider it my great good fortune that I had the privilege 
of meeting the leaders of intellectual life of the Berlin of 
that day. 

Paris and Berlin, 1898-1899 23 

The intellectual life of Berlin made a much greater 
impression on me than that of Paris. In Paris, the cosmo- 
politan city, the intellectual life was fragmented. One had 
to get thoroughly acclimatized before one could see its 
merits. The intellectual life of Berlin, in contrast, had its 
center in its well-organized, lively university. Moreover, 
Berlin at that time was not yet a cosmopolitan city but gave 
the impression of being a provincial town that was devel- 
oping happily in every respect. Altogether it had an air of 
healthy self-assurance and a confident faith in its destiny 
not to be found in contemporary Paris, which was then 
being tom apart by the Dreyfus case. Thus I came to know 
and love Berlin during the finest period of its existence. I 
was especially impressed by the simple life-style of Berlin 
society and the ease with which one was admitted to its 

The First Years in 

At the end of July 1899, I returned to 
Strasbourg to receive my doctorate in 
philosophy. In the oral examination, 
Ziegler and Windelband both thought 
that I fell below the level my disser- 
tation had led them to expect from me. 
The time I had spent with Stumpf in 
his experiments had been lost so far as 
preparation for the examination was 
concerned. In addition, in reading 
original works I had neglected my text- 
books far too much. 

The dissertation appeared as a book 
before the end of 1899 under the title 
The Religious Philosophy of Kant: 

The First Years in Strasbourg 25 

From the “Critique of Pure Reason ” to “Religion Within 
the Limits of Reason Alone.” 

Theobald Ziegler advised me to qualify as a privatdozent 
in the philosophy faculty, but I decided for theology. He 
hinted to me that if I were a privatdozent in philosophy 
people would not be pleased to see me active as a preacher 
as well. But to me preaching was an inner necessity. The 
opportunity to speak every Sunday to a congregation about 
the essential questions of life seemed to me wonderful. 

From this time on I remained in Strasbourg. Although 
I was no longer a student, I was given permission to live 
in the Collegium Wilhelmitanum (the seminary of St. 
Thomas), which I loved so well. The room overlooking the 
quiet garden with its big trees— the room in which I had 
passed so many happy hours as a student — seemed a most 
appropriate place for the work that now lay before me. 

The moment I had finished correcting the proofs of my 
doctoral dissertation, I set to work on getting my licentiate 
to teach theology. I decided to obtain that degree as quickly 
as I could so that the Goll fellowship I held could be made 
available to another qualified student as soon as possible. 
My friend Jager, a gifted student of Oriental languages, for 
whose sake I hastened, never made use of this fellowship. 
Instead he became director of the Protestant Gymnasium 
at Strasbourg. Had I known this I would have traveled 
longer before settling down, and would also have studied 
at some English universities. 

On December 1, 1899, 1 obtained a post as assistant vicar 
of the Church of St. Nicholai in Strasbourg. Later, after I 
had passed the second theological examination, I was ap- 
pointed vicar. This second examination, usually conducted 
by elderly clerics, I barely passed on July 15, 1900. So 


occupied was I with the dissertation for the theological 
licentiate, I had neglected to refresh my memory as I should 
have on the various branches of theology, which this ex- 
amination demanded. It was only through the forceful in- 
tervention of Pfarrer Will, whom I had delighted with my 
knowledge of the history of dogma, that I did not fail. It 
was especially unfortunate that I did not know enough about 
the hymn writers and their lives. 

The staff at St. Nicholai consisted of two elderly, but still 
vigorous, ministers: Pastor Knittel, one of my father’s pre- 
decessors at Giinsbach, and Pastor Gerold, an intimate 
friend of one of my mother’s brothers, who had been in- 
cumbent at St. Nicholai but had died young. To these two 
men I was appointed as an assistant, chiefly so that I might 
relieve them of the afternoon service, the Sunday children’s 
service, and the confirmation classes. 

The tasks given to me were a constant source of joy. At 
the afternoon service, with only a small group of worshipers 
present, I could use the intimate style of preaching I had 
inherited from my father and in which I could express 
myself better than at the morning service. Even today I 
am never quite free from shyness before a large audience. 
As the years passed, the two old gentlemen had to spare 
themselves more and more, and I frequently had to preach 
in the morning as well. I used to write my sermons out in 
full, often making two or three drafts before I had the final 
version. When delivering the sermons, however, I did not 
tie myself to this text, which I had carefully memorized, 
but often departed from it considerably. 

My afternoon sermons, which I looked upon as simple 
devotional meditations rather than sermons, were so short 
that on one occasion certain circles of the congregation 

The First Years in Strasbourg 27 

complained. Pastor Knittel, who also held the office of “In- 
spector of Spiritual Matters,” had to call me before him, 
and when I appeared he was as embarrassed as I was. 

To his question as to how he should respond to the ag- 
grieved members of the congregation, I answered that he 
might reply that I was only a poor curate who stopped 
speaking when he found he had nothing more to say about 
the text. Thereupon he dismissed me with a mild reprimand 
and an admonition not to preach for less than twenty min- 

Pastor Knittel represented orthodoxy softened by pie- 
tism; Pastor Gerold was a liberal. But they fulfilled the 
duties of their office together in a truly brotherly spirit. 
Everything was carried out in perfect harmony. The work 
accomplished at this unpretentious church, opposite the 
St. Thomas seminary, was remarkable. 

Many times during these years, whenever I had a free 
Sunday, I went to Giinsbach to take over the service for 
my father. Three times a week, from eleven to twelve, when 
the morning lessons were over, I had to take up the con- 
firmation classes for boys. I tried hard to give them as little 
homework as possible, so that the lessons might be a time 
of pure enjoyment for heart and spirit. I therefore used the 
last ten minutes of our classes to recite with them words 
from the Bible and verses from hymns, so that they would 
know them and the words would stay with them throughout 
their lives. The aim of my teaching was to bring to their 
hearts and thoughts the great truths of the Gospels so re- 
ligion would have meaning in their lives and give them the 
strength to resist the irreligious forces that might assail 
them. I also tried to awaken in them a love for the Church, 
and a desire for that hour of spiritual peace to be found in 


the Sunday service. I taught them to respect traditional 
doctrines, but at the same time to hold fast to the saying 
of Paul that where the spirit of Christ is, there is free- 

Of the seeds that for years I was thus sowing, some have 
taken root and grown, as I have been privileged to learn. 
Men have thanked me for having then brought home to 
their hearts the fundamental truths of the religion of Jesus 
as something not hostile to reason, but, on the contrary, 
as strengthening them. This has helped them to keep their 
religion later in life. 

In these classes of religious instruction I first became 
conscious of how much of the schoolmaster’s blood I had 
in me from my ancestors. 

My stipend at St. Nicholai was one hundred marks (fifty 
dollars) a month, but it sufficed for my needs, as my board 
and lodging at the St. Thomas hostel were very cheap. 

One great advantage of my position there was that it left 
me plenty of time for scholarly pursuits and for music. The 
thoughtfulness of the two ministers made it possible for me 
to leave Strasbourg when the children were on their spring 
and fall vacations. I had only to provide for a substitute 
preacher, and when nobody else was available, they were 
kind enough to preach themselves. Thus I had three months 
out of the year free, one after Easter and two in the fall. 
The spring holiday I usually spent in Paris in order to 
continue my studies with Widor. The autumn I spent for 
the most part in my parents’ home at Gvinsbach. 

During these extended visits to Paris I made many val- 
uable acquaintances. Romain Rolland I met for the first 

The First Years in Strasbourg 29 

time around 1905, and in the beginning we were merely 
musicians to each other. Gradually, however, we discov- 
ered that we were humans too, and we became good 

With Henri Lichtenberger, the sensitive French con- 
noisseur of German literature, I developed a warm friend- 
ship. Robert Minder, my student in music and philosophy, 
became his successor in Strasbourg after 1918. 

I shall never forget a chance encounter I had one de- 
lightful spring morning at the beginning of the century in 
the narrow rue St. -Jacques. As I was late for an appoint- 
ment, I had to take a cab. At one street crossing the two 
lines of vehicles had to remain stationary side by side for 
some time, and I was attracted by the head of the occupant 
of the open carriage alongside mine. I noticed that the 
elegant tall hat — at that time the tall hat was still worn in 
Paris — looked odd upon the anything-but-elegant head. 
But while I continued to look — for we had to wait a con- 
siderable time — I fell under the spell of the uncanny some- 
thing, which was the very reverse of spiritual, that 
characterized the face. Such indications of untamed pri- 
mitive human nature, features expressing reckless and re- 
morseless willpower, I had never seen before in any human 
being. While I was staring, it suddenly dawned on me that 
it was Clemenceau. 

When I learned later that after three sittings Cezanne 
had given up the task of painting Clemenceau because he 
“couldn’t make a portrait of a thing like that,” I thoroughly 
understood what he meant. 

During the first years of the new century I delivered a 
series of lectures, in German, on German literature and 
philosophy before the Foreign Language Society of Paris. 


I still remember those on Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Ger- 
hart Hauptmann, Sudermann, and Goethe’s Faust. In Au- 
gust 1900, while I was working on the lecture on Nietzsche, 
the news came that death had at last released him from his 

My life was simple in those years, which were decisive 
for my creative work. I worked a great deal, with unbroken 
concentration but without haste. 

I did not travel much, because I had neither the time 
nor the money. In 1900 I accompanied my aunt, the wife 
of my father’s eldest brother, to Oberammergau. The won- 
derful landscape behind the stage actually made a stronger 
impression on me than the Passion play. I was bothered 
by the staging of the essential action of the Passion in pic- 
torial scenes from the Old Testament, by the excessively 
theatrical display, by the imperfections of the text, and by 
the banality of the music. What touched me deeply was 
the pious fervor with which the actors immersed them- 
selves in the parts they played. 

We cannot help but feel dissatisfied with a Passion play 
that was meant to be performed, using simple methods, by 
villagers for villagers and as a religious service, but is forced 
out of this mold by a flood of foreign spectators and turned 
into a stage play that must satisfy the demands of all those 
who see it. Anyone sensitive to the spiritual side of life 
must admit that the people of Oberammergau make every 
effort to perform this Passion play, even with its changes, 
in the simple spirit in which it was originally conceived. 

When my finances permitted, I made the pilgrimage to 
Bayreuth in those years the festival took place. Cosima 
Wagner, whom I had met in Strasbourg while working on 
my book on Bach, made a deep impression on me. She 

The First Years in Strasbourg 31 

became interested in my idea that Bach’s music is descrip- 
tive. Once, when she visited the eminent church historian 
Johannes Ficker in Strasbourg, she asked me to illustrate 
my view by playing some of Bach’s choral preludes on the 
fine Merklin organ in the new church. She also, on that 
occasion, gave me interesting details about the religious 
instruction she had received in her youth and later, after 
she had decided to convert to Protestantism. However 
often we met I was never able to overcome my shyness in 
the presence of this noble, highly artistic, extraordinary 

In Siegfried Wagner I valued the simplicity and the mod- 
esty that characterized this man so very talented in so many 
fields. No one who saw him at work in Bayreuth could help 
but admire him, both for what he did and for the way in 
which he did it. His music too contains much that is truly 
significant and beautiful. 

Study of the Last 
Supper and the Life 
of Jesus, 1900-1902 

After finishing my work on Kant, when 
I returned to theology it would have 
been natural for me to take up my stud- 
ies of the problems of the life of Jesus, 
which had occupied me since my first 
student days. I could have gathered 
the material and developed it into a 
dissertation. My studies of the Last 
Supper had, however, broadened my 
views and my interests. The research 
on the life of Jesus had led me to re- 
search on primitive Christianity. The 
problem of the Last Supper belongs, 
of course, to both of these subjects. It 

The Last Supper 33 

stands at the center of the development of the faith of Jesus 
and of primitive Christianity. 

If, I said to myself, the origin and significance of the Last 
Supper remain an enigma for us, we apparently do not 
understand the world of thought of the times of Jesus and 
of early Christianity. In addition, we cannot grasp the real 
problems of the faith of Jesus and of primitive Christianity 
because we do not regard them as based on the Last Supper 
and baptism. 

Guided by these considerations, I conceived the idea of 
writing a history of the Last Supper as it related both to 
the life of Jesus and to the history of primitive Christianity. 
A preliminary investigation was meant to define my position 
regarding previous research into the question of the Last 
Supper and to throw light upon the problem as a whole. 
A second part would describe the thought and activities of 
Jesus as conditions for understanding the last supper that 
He celebrated with His disciples. A third part was to treat 
the Last Supper in the primitive Church and in the first 
two centuries of Christianity. 

For my work on the problem of the Last Supper, I ob- 
tained my degree in theology (the diploma of licentiate in 
theology) on July 21, 1900. Its second part, on the mystery 
of the Messiahship and the Passion, served as qualification 
to teach as privatdozent at the university in 1902. 

When the third study, devoted to the Last Supper in 
primitive Christianity, and the fourth, on the history of 
baptism in the New Testament and primitive Christian- 
ity, were completed, I used them in my course lectures. 
Neither has been published. The Quest of the Historical 
Jesus, which I originally considered a supplement to a 
sketch on the life of Jesus, grew into a large volume and 


prevented the preparation of other studies for publica- 

After this came a new interruption: the book on Bach 
and, after that, my medical studies. When, near the con- 
clusion of these studies, I could find time once more to 
devote to theology, I decided to write a history of scholarly 
research into the thought of the Apostle Paul. This would 
then be a companion volume to The Quest of the Historical 
Jesus and an introduction to an exposition of Pauline doc- 

On the strength of my newly won understanding of the 
teachings of Jesus and Paul, I intended to complete a history 
of the origin and early development of Christianity and the 
Last Supper and baptism. I had planned to do this after 
my first stay in Africa, when, after one and a half or two 
years, I would have leave in Europe. This plan, however, 
was ruined by the war, which only allowed me to return 
to Europe after four and a half years in Africa, and then in 
bad health and deprived of my livelihood. 

In the meantime another project interfered: I had begun 
to work on The Philosophy of Civilization. Consequently, 
“The History of the Last Supper and Baptism in the Early 
Christian Period” has remained in manuscript form for my 
lectures. The thoughts that underlie it are put forward in 
my book The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. 

In my work on the problem of the Last Supper I examined 
the various solutions that had been offered by theologians 
up to the end of the nineteenth century. At the same time 
I attempted to reveal its true character. In the course of 
my studies it became evident that the solutions offered to 
explain the early Christian celebration of the distribution 

The Last Supper 35 

of bread and wine are impossible. Repetition of the words 
of Jesus cannot turn bread and wine into His body and 

The celebration as practiced in early Christendom was 
something other than a sacramental repetition or symbolical 
representation of the atoning death of Jesus. That inter- 
pretation of the last meal of Jesus with His disciples was 
added much later, in the Catholic Mass and in the Prot- 
estant celebration of the Last Supper, as a symbol of the 
forgiveness of sins. 

The words of Jesus about bread and wine as His body 
and blood did not — strange as the statement may seem to 
us — determine the nature of the celebration for the dis- 
ciples and the first believers. According to our knowledge 
of primitive Christianity, those words were not repeated at 
the community meal in the beginning. What constituted 
the celebration, then, was not Jesus’ words of the so-called 
institution, which spoke of bread and wine as His body and 
blood, but the prayers of thanksgiving over the bread and 
wine. These gave both to the last supper of Jesus with His 
disciples and to the solemn meal of the early Christian 
community a meaning that pointed toward the expected 
Messianic meal. 

This explains why the celebration of the Last Supper 
is called “Eucharist,” that is, a “Thanksgiving.” It was 
celebrated not once a year on the evening of Maundy 
Thursday but in the early hours every Sunday, to sig- 
nify the day of the resurrection of Jesus, when believers 
looked forward to His return and the coming of the King- 
dom of God. 

In the sketch on the life of Jesus, published under the title 
The Secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and Passion, I presented 
the nineteenth-century views of the early public activities 
and sermons of Jesus. These were accepted as historically 
authentic, and were confirmed in detail by Holtzmann in 


his work on the Gospels. His views are based upon two 
fundamental ideas: first, that Jesus did not share the naive, 
realistic expectation of the return of the Messiah, which 
was at that time widespread among the Jewish people; and 
that it was owing to the failures He experienced after some 
initial successes that He decided to submit to His suffering 
and death. 

Theological scholarship of the second half of the nine- 
teenth century held that Jesus tries to divert the attention 
of believers from the supernatural Messianic Kingdom they 
expect by proclaiming an ethical Kingdom of God in this 
world. Accordingly, He does not hold Himself to be the 
Messiah of His hearers’ imagination but tries to instill in 
them a belief in a spiritual, ethical Messiah, who will enable 
them to recognize the Messiah in Him. 

At first His preaching was successful. Later on, however, 
the multitude, influenced by the Pharisees and the rulers 
at Jerusalem, falls away from Him. As he realizes this, he 
accepts that it is the will of God that, for the sake of the 
Kingdom of God and in order to establish His own spiritual 
Messiahship, he must die. Thus the next Easter he travels 
to Jerusalem to surrender Himself to suffering and death 
on the cross. 

This view of the thought and decisions of Jesus is unten- 
able, because its two fundamental ideas do not correspond 
to facts. Nowhere in the oldest sources, the Gospels of Mark 
and Matthew, is there any indication that Jesus wanted to 
replace the realistic view of a future supernatural Kingdom 
of God, as it was held by the people of that time, with a 
spiritualized Kingdom. Nor do those Gospels say anything 
about a successful period of activity being followed by an 
unsuccessful one. 

As shown by the sayings Mark and Matthew ascribe to 
Him, Jesus lives in the Messianic expectation, held by late 
Judaism, that goes back to the old prophets and to the Book 

The Last Supper 37 

of Daniel, a book which came into existence around 165 
b.c. We know of this expectation from the Book of Enoch 
(ca. 100 B.C.), the Psalms of Solomon (63 B.C.), and the 
Apocalypses of Baruch and Ezra (ca. a.d. 80). 

Like His contemporaries, Jesus identifies the Messiah 
with the “Son of Man,” who is mentioned in the Book of 
Daniel, and who speaks of His coming on the clouds of 
heaven. The Kingdom of God He preaches is the heavenly 
Messianic Kingdom, which will be established on earth 
when the Son of Man comes at the end of the natural world. 
He constantly exhorts His listeners to be ready at any mo- 
ment for the judgment, as a result of which some will enter 
into the glory of the Messianic Kingdom while others will 
face damnation. He even offers His disciples the prospect 
of sitting, at this judgment, on twelve seats around His 
throne and judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 

Jesus accepts, then, as true the late Jewish Messianic 
expectation in all its realistic aspects. In no way does He 
attempt to spiritualize it. But He fills it with His own 
powerful ethical spirit, passing beyond the Law and the 
scribes. He demands from men the practice of the abso- 
lute ethic of love as proof that they belong to God and to 
the Messiah and will be elected to membership in the 
coming Kingdom. In the Sermon on the Mount he an- 
nounces who is predestined to receive future blessings: the 
simple, the merciful, the peacemakers, the pure in heart, 
those who hunger and thirst after the justice of the King- 
dom of God, the mourners, those who suffer persecution 
for the Kingdom of God’s sake, those who become as little 

The error of earlier research is that it attributes to Jesus 
a spiritualizing of the late Jewish Messianic expectation, 
whereas in reality He simply introduces into it the ethical 
religion of love. Our minds refuse at first to grasp that a 
religiousness and an ethic so deep and spiritual can be 


combined with other views so naively realistic. But the 
combination is a fact. 

Against the hypothesis that there are two phases in the 
activity of Jesus, a successful period and an unsuccessful, 
we can point to the fact that in His last period in Galilee, 
as well as at the Temple in Jerusalem, enthusiastic crowds 
gathered around Him. Surrounded by his followers, He is 
protected against His enemies. With their support He can 
even venture in His discourses at the Temple to attack the 
Pharisees, and to drive the traders and the money changers 
out of it. 

When, after the return of the disciples whom He had 
sent on a mission to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom 
of God, He goes with them to the heathen region of Tyre 
and Sidon, He is not motivated by a need to withdraw from 
His enemies. The people do not leave Him; on the contrary, 
He retires to have some time alone with those closest to 
Him. As soon as He appears again in Galilee, the crowd of 
His adherents gathers round Him. It is at the head of the 
Galilean pilgrims on their way to the Easter celebration 
that He enters Jerusalem. His arrest and crucifixion are 
only possible because He Himself surrenders to the au- 
thorities. They condemn Him during the night, and in the 
early morning, almost before Jerusalem is awake, he is 
already crucified. 

Following the precise statements of the two oldest Gospels, 
I counter the untenable earlier interpretations of the life 
of Jesus with a new concept: I show that His thought, word, 
and action were based on His expectation that the end of 
the world was near and that the Kingdom of God would be 
revealed. This interpretation is called “eschatological” 
(from the Greek word eschatos, meaning “the last”) and it 
is in accordance with the traditional Jewish-Christian doc- 
trine concerning the events leading to the end of the world. 

The Last Supper 39 

If we look at the life of Jesus in this way — and we must 
remember that our factual knowledge is limited to His pub- 
lic appearances and His end — then we see the following: 
Just as Jesus announces the Kingdom of God not as some- 
thing already beginning but as something of the future, He 
does not think that He is already the Messiah. He is con- 
vinced that only at the appearance of the Messianic King- 
dom, when those predestined enter the supernatural ex- 
istence intended for them, will He be manifested as the 
Messiah. This knowledge about His future dignity remains 
His secret. To the people He presents Himself only as the 
One who announces the imminent coming of the Kingdom 
of God. His listeners do not have to know who He is. When 
the Kingdom of God comes, they will realize it. The knowl- 
edge of who He is has manifested itself only to those who 
recognize Him, as the disciples have done, and who accept 
His message of the Kingdom of God. He promises that the 
Son of Man (to whom He refers in the third person, as if 
He were not identical with Him) will recognize them im- 
mediately as His own. 

For Himself and those who look with Him for the im- 
minent coming of the Kingdom of God, Jesus expects that 
they will first have to endure together the pre-Messianic 
Tribulation and then prove themselves faithful. For ac- 
cording to the late Jewish teaching about events at the end 
of the world, all those who are called to the Messianic 
Kingdom will, immediately before this takes place, suffer 
for some time at the mercy of the God-opposing powers of 
this world. 

At some point in time — whether it was weeks or months 
after His appearance in public we do not know — Jesus feels 
certain that the hour for the coming of the Kingdom has 
arrived. He hastily sends out His disciples two by two into 
the cities of Israel that they may spread the news. In the 
instructions he gives them (Matthew 10), He warns them 


to expect the Messianic Tribulation which is immediately 
about to dawn and bring upon them and the other elect 
ones fierce persecution, yes, perhaps death itself. He does 
not expect to see them return to Him but assures them 
that the “coming of the Son of Man” (which is expected to 
be simultaneous with the manifestation of the Kingdom) 
will take place even before they have visited all the cities 
of Israel. 

His expectation, however, is not fulfilled. The disciples 
return without having suffered any persecution whatever. 
Of the pre-Messianic Tribulation there is no sign, and the 
Messianic Kingdom does not appear. Jesus can explain this 
fact to Himself only by supposing that there is still some 
event that must take place first. 

The perception dawns on Him that the Kingdom of God 
can only come when He, as the Messiah-to-be, has by 
suffering and death made atonement for those who have 
been elected to the Kingdom, and thereby saved them from 
the necessity of going through the pre-Messianic Tribula- 

Jesus has always counted on the possibility that God, in 
His mercy, might spare the elect the pre-Messianic suf- 
fering. In the Lord’s Prayer, which is a prayer about the 
coming of the Kingdom of God, believers are bidden to 
pray that God not lead them into “temptation” but deliver 
them from “Evil.” By this “temptation” Jesus does not mean 
any individual temptation to commit sin. He refers to the 
persecution that will take place, with the authorization of 
God, at the end of time. Believers will have to suffer this 
at the hands of “the Evil One,” Satan, who represents the 
powers that oppose God. 

The thought, then, with which Jesus meets death is that 
God is willing to accept His self-chosen death as an atone- 
ment made for believers. In this way the believers do not 
suffer the pre-Messianic tribulations in which through suf- 

The Last Supper 41 

fering and death they would be purified and prove them- 
selves worthy to enter the Kingdom of God. 

The resolution of Jesus to suffer an atoning death is also 
based upon the passages in Isaiah about the Servant of 
Jehovah (Isaiah 53) who suffers for the sins of others without 
their understanding the significance of what He endures. 
Originally, these passages from Isaiah, from the period of 
the Jewish exile, referred to the suffering inflicted on Israel 
by other people at that time. By enduring their suffering 
as “Servants of God,” the people of Israel would then bring 
other people to recognize the true God. 

When Jesus and His disciples were in the area of Cae- 
sarea Philippi, He reveals to them the necessity of suffering 
and death for Him who was destined to be the Messiah. 
At the same time He discloses to them that He is “the Son 
of Man” (Mark 8:27-33). Then at Eastertime He goes up 
with the crowds of Galileans to Jerusalem. The rejoicing at 
His entry into Jerusalem is not for the Messiah but for the 
prophet of Nazareth, of the House of David. The treason 
of Judas consists not in betraying to the Sanhedrin where 
Jesus can be arrested but in disclosing His claim to be the 

At the last supper He takes with His disciples. He gives 
them to eat and to drink bread and wine that He has con- 
secrated by prayers of thanksgiving. He declares that He 
will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day 
when He will drink it again in His Father’s Kingdom. Thus 
at His last earthly meal He blesses them as His companions 
at the coming Messianic meal. From that time onward be- 
lievers carry within them the assurance that they are invited 
to the Messianic meal, and gather together for ceremonial 
meals with food and drink and prayers of thanksgiving. 

Through this continuation of the Last Supper they hope 
to hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God. Jesus, then, 
expects that through his atoning death the Messianic King- 


dom will come about without any preliminary suffering. He 
tells His judges that they will see Him as the Son of Man 
seated on the right hand of God and coming on the clouds 
of heaven (Mark 14:62). Since on the morning after the 
Sabbath the disciples find the grave empty and, in their 
enthusiastic expectation of the glory in which their Master 
is soon to appear, have visions of Him risen from the grave, 
they are certain that He is with God in heaven, and that 
he will soon appear as the Messiah and usher in the King- 
dom of God. 

What the two oldest Gospels report of the public life of 
Jesus takes place in the course of one year. In the spring, 
with the parable of the sower, Jesus begins to proclaim the 
secret of the Kingdom of God. At harvesttime He is hoping 
that the heavenly harvest, like the earthly one, will begin 
and He sends out the disciples to make a final proclamation 
of the nearness of the Kingdom (Matthew 9:37ff). Shortly 
after that, He abandons His public activity and retires with 
His disciples to heathen territory in the neighborhood of 
Caesarea Philippi, probably until around Easter, when He 
joins a group of pilgrims from Galilee on their journey to 
Jerusalem. It is possible, then, that the period of His public 
activity lasted at most five or six months. 

Teaching Activities 
at the University of 

The Quest of the 
Historical Jesus 

On March 1, 1902, I delivered my in- 
augural lecture before the theological 
faculty at Strasbourg on the Logos doc- 
trine in the fourth Gospel. 

Later I learned that protests against 
my acceptance as a university lecturer 
had been lodged by two members of 
the faculty. They expressed disap- 
proval of my method of historical in- 
vestigation and fear that I should 
confuse the students with my views. 
They were not successful, however, 
as they could not stand up to the au- 
thority of Holtzmann, who took my 



In the inaugural lecture, I showed that the obscure pas- 
sages in the discourses of the Johannine Christ hang to- 
gether, though they do not become intelligible until they 
are recognized as being indications by which Christ pre- 
pares His hearers to accept the sacraments as deriving their 
power from the Logos. Only later did I have an opportunity 
to develop this theory fully in my book The Mysticism of 
Paul the Apostle. 

In the summer term of 1902, I began my lectures with 
a course on the Epistles of Timothy and Titus, the so-called 
pastoral Epistles. 

The inspiration for studying the history of research into 
the life of Jesus came from a conversation with students 
who had attended a course of lectures by Professor Spitta 
on the life of Jesus, but who knew practically nothing about 
previous research on the subject. I therefore resolved, with 
Professor Holtzmann’s approval, to lecture for two hours 
weekly during the summer term of 1905 on the history of 
research on the life of Jesus. I began the task with great 
zeal. The subject soon captivated me so completely that I 
devoted all my energy to its pursuit. Thanks to bequests 
from Edouard Reuss and other Strasbourg theologians, the 
university library possessed a virtually complete collection 
of literature on the life of Jesus. In addition, the library 
held nearly all the controversial writings provoked by the 
publications of Strauss’s and Renan’s lives. There was 
hardly another place in the world where circumstances 
could have been so favorable for studying the history of 
research on the life of Jesus. 

While I was engaged in this work, I was director of the 
Collegium Wilhelmitanum (the seminary of St. Thomas). 
Immediately after the death of Erichson, I had been made 

Teaching at Strasbourg 45 

acting director for the period May 1 to September 30, 1901, 
when Gustav Anrich — at that time pastor at Lingolsheim 
near Strasbourg — would take over those duties. In the sum- 
mer of 1903, however, Anrich was appointed professor of 
Church History as successor to Ernst Lucius, who had died 
suddenly, so on October 1, 1903, I was in turn appointed 
director and given the beautiful quarters overlooking the 
sunny St. Thomas embankment and a yearly stipend of two 
thousand marks. For my study I kept the old room I had 
occupied as a student. While Gustav Anrich had been di- 
rector, I had lived in town. 

The Quest of the Historical Jesus appeared as early as 1906, 
the first edition bearing the subtitle From Reimarus to 

Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694-1768) was professor 
of Oriental languages at Hamburg. His treatise The Aims 
of Jesus and His Disciples was the first attempt to explain 
the life of Christ based on the hypothesis that Jesus shared 
the eschatological Messianic expectations of his contem- 
poraries. The treatise was first published by Lessing after 
the death of Reimarus as Wolfenbiittler Fragmente without 
mentioning the author’s name. 

William Wrede (1859-1907), professor of theology at 
Breslau, in his treatise The Messianic Secret of the Gospels 
made the first solid attempt to deny that Jesus entertained 
any eschatological ideas at all. From there, he was led to 
the further assumption that Jesus did not regard himself as 
the Messiah and that his disciples did not proclaim Him as 
such until after His death. 

Since Reimarus and Wrede represent the two poles of 


my research, I chose their names for the subtitle of my 

After I had worked through the numerous lives of Jesus, 
I found it very difficult to organize them into chapters. After 
vain attempts to do this on paper, I piled all the “lives” in 
one big heap in the middle of my room, selected a place 
for each of the chapters in a corner or between the pieces 
of furniture, and then, after considerable thought, sorted 
the volumes into the piles to which they belonged. I 
pledged myself to find a place for every book in some pile, 
and then to leave each heap undisturbed in its place until 
the corresponding chapter in the manuscript was finished. 
I followed this plan to the very end. For many months 
people who visited me had to thread their way across the 
room along paths that ran between heaps of books. I had 
also to ensure that the tidying zeal of the trusty Wiirttem- 
berg widow who kept house for me halted before it reached 
the piles of books. 

The first representatives of the historical-critical method 
who pursued research into the life of Jesus had to struggle 
with the task of exploring the existence of Jesus using purely 
historical means and to examine critically the Gospels that 
served as sources of information. Gradually they came to 
recognize that Jesus’ understanding of His mission could 
be researched through a historical and critical analysis of 
the available information about His teaching and His deeds. 

The lives of Jesus written in the eighteenth and early 
nineteenth centuries depict Jesus as the Master who en- 
lightens His people and seeks to lead them from the non- 
spiritual religion of the Jews to a faith in the God of love 
and a spiritual Kingdom of God that is established on this 

Teaching at Strasbourg 47 

earth through the Messiah. They endeavor to explain all 
the miracles of Jesus as natural events misunderstood by 
the multitude, and thus they try to put an end to all belief 
in the miraculous. The most famous of these rationalistic 
lives of Jesus is that of Karl Heinrich Venturini: A Non- 
Supernatural History of the Great Prophet of Nazareth, 
which in the years 1800 to 1802 appeared anonymously in 
German at “Bethlehem” (in reality Copenhagen) in four 
volumes comprising twenty-seven hundred pages. No one 
of that period took any notice at all of the attempt Reimarus 
made to understand the preaching of Jesus from the stand- 
point of the eschatological Messianic doctrine of late Ju- 

Genuine historical research begins with critical analysis 
of the Gospels to determine the historical value of their ac- 
counts. This effort, which began in the nineteenth century 
and continued for several decades, had the following re- 
sults: The picture given by the Gospel of John is irrecon- 
cilable with that of the other three; the other three are the 
older and therefore the more credible sources; the material 
they have in common with one another is found in its ear- 
liest form in the Gospel of Mark; and, finally, Luke’s Gospel 
is considerably later than those of Mark and Matthew. 

Research into the life of Jesus found itself in a difficult 
situation when David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1874), in his 
Life of Jesus, published in 1835, accepted only a small 
portion of what the two oldest Gospels report about Jesus. 
According to him, most of the accounts are of a mythical 
character, which gradually came into existence in primitive 
Christianity. Most of these narratives go back to passages 
relating to the Messiah in the Old Testament. 

Finally, when Strauss questions the credibility of the two 
oldest narratives, it is not because he is by nature a skeptic. 
He does so because he is the first to realize how difficult 
it is to understand the details the Evangelists give of Jesus’ 
public life and preaching. 


From the middle of the nineteenth century onward, a 
modem historical view gradually developed, holding that 
Jesus attempted to spiritualize the realistic Messianic hopes 
of contemporary Judaism by coming forward as a spiritual 
Messiah and founder of an ethical Kingdom of God. When 
He saw that the people did not understand Him and with- 
drew, He resolved to die for His cause, and in this way to 
carry it to victory. 

Of the presentations of the life of Jesus that share this 
concept, the best known are those of Ernest Renan (1863), 
Theodore Keim (three volumes, 1867; 1871; 1872), Karl 
Hase (1876), and Oscar Holtzmann (1901). Heinrich Julius 
Holtzmann attempted to provide a scholarly basis for this 
interpretation in his books on the first three Gospels. The 
most lively presentation of this modernized theory about 
Jesus is to be found in Hamack’s What Is Christianity? 

As early as 1860 the various investigations into the prob- 
lems of the life of Jesus began to make it clear that the view 
that represents Him as trying to spiritualize the eschato- 
logical Messianic expectations of His time cannot be sus- 
tained. In a series of passages He speaks in a quite realistic 
way of the coming of the Son of Man and the Messianic 
Kingdom when this world comes to an end. If one abandons 
the reinterpretation or rejects these passages, two alter- 
natives remain: either to recognize and admit that Jesus 
really did live with a belief in the ideas of late Jewish 
eschatology or to assert that only those sayings are genuine 
in which He speaks in a truly spiritual way of the Messiah 
and the Messianic Kingdom. The remainder must then 
have been attributed to Him by a primitive Christianity 
that had reverted to the realistic views of late Judaism. 

Faced by these alternatives, research at first decided for 
the second. That Jesus should be thought to have shared 
the Messianic ideas of late Judaism, which are so alien to 
our ideas, seemed so incomprehensible and so shocking 

Teaching at Strasbourg 49 

that one preferred to doubt the trustworthiness of the two 
oldest Gospels and to deny the authenticity of a portion of 
the sayings they report. 

But when this theory endeavors, as in the works of Tim- 
othy Colani ( Jesus Christ et les croyances messianiques de 
son temps, 1864) and Gustave Volkmar ( Jesus Nazarenus, 
1882), to establish this distinction between genuine “spir- 
itual Messianic” and spurious “eschatological Messianic” 
pronouncements, it must be denied that Jesus ever be- 
lieved Himself to be the Messiah. For the passages in which 
He entrusts to His disciples the secret that He is the Mes- 
siah are, one and all, “eschatological Messianic,” in that, 
according to them. He holds Himself to be the person who 
at the end of the world will appear as the Son of Man. 

The question of whether Jesus thought eschatologically 
or not leads therefore to one point: Did He consider Him- 
self to be the Messiah or not? Anyone who admits that He 
did must also admit that His ideas and expectations con- 
formed to the eschatological views of late Judaism. Anyone 
who refuses to recognize this Jewish element in His thought 
must also refuse to attribute to Him any consciousness of 
being the Messiah. 

That is the conclusion William Wrede drew in his work 
The Messianic Secret of the Gospels (1901). He developed 
the idea that Jesus presented Himself only as the Master and 
that after His death He became the Messiah in the imagin- 
ation of His disciples. Only at a later stage of primitive 
Christianity was the idea introduced that Jesus did not 
reveal Himself as the Messiah but guarded it as a secret. 

To doubt the eschatological Messianic statements of Jesus 
leads, then, with inexorable logic to the conclusion that 
there is nothing in the two oldest Gospels which can be 
accepted as historical beyond a few quite general reports 
about the teaching activities of a certain Jesus of Nazareth. 
Rather than become prey to such radicalism, scholarship 
resigned itself to the necessity of recognizing eschatological 


Messianic ideas in Jesus’ thought. Toward the end of the 
nineteenth century, the idea of the eschatological character 
of the message of Jesus and the thought that Jesus was 
aware of His role as Messiah gained increasing recognition. 
This view was especially well articulated by the Heidelberg 
theologian Johannes Weiss in his book The Sermons of Jesus 
Concerning the Kingdom of God (1892). Nevertheless, his- 
torical theology secretly hoped not to have to admit that 
Weiss could have been correct. In reality, however, the- 
ology had to go further. Weiss had gone only partway. He 
realized that Jesus thought eschatologically but did not con- 
clude from this that His actions were also determined by 
eschatology. Weiss explained the course of Jesus’ activity 
and His resolution to die using the hypothesis that He was 
initially successful and later a failure. For a historical un- 
derstanding of the life of Jesus, however, it is necessary to 
consider that Jesus’ actions cannot be explained through 
ordinary psychology, but solely on the basis of eschatolog- 
ical concepts. 

I developed this eschatological solution to the prob- 
lems of the life of Jesus in my work The Quest of the His- 
torical Jesus. Earlier, in 1901, 1 had already sketched out 
these thoughts in The Secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and 

Because this eschatological solution succeeds in making 
the thoughts, words, and acts of Jesus consistent and com- 
prehensible, it shows that many passages in the Gospels, 
which had been considered apocryphal in the past, were 
indeed intelligible and completely authentic. 

In this way the eschatological interpretation of the life of 
Jesus puts an end to any need to doubt the credibility of 
the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. It shows that their ac- 
counts of the public activity and death of Jesus follow a 
faithful tradition that is reliable even in its details. If some 
elements of this tradition are obscure or confusing, the 
explanation lies chiefly in the fact that in a number of in- 

Teaching at Strasbourg 51 

stances the disciples themselves did not understand the 
sayings and actions of their Master. 

After the publication of my Quest of the Historical Jesus a 
friendly exchange of letters began between William Wrede 
and myself. It moved me deeply to learn from him that he 
suffered from an incurable heart disease and might expect 
death at any moment. “Subjectively I am tolerably well; 
objectively my condition is hopeless,” he wrote in one of 
the last letters I received from him. The thought that I 
could work without thinking of my health while he had to 
give up his work in the best years of his life troubled me 
deeply. The tribute I had paid in my book to his achieve- 
ments perhaps compensated a little for the hostility he had 
encountered in response to his courageous search for the 
truth. He died in 1907. 

To my astonishment my work met at once with recog- 
nition in England. The first to make my views known there 
was Professor William Sanday of Oxford in his lectures on 
the problems of the life of Jesus. Unfortunately I could not 
accept his invitation to come to England because I had no 
time. I was studying medicine by then and just at that 
time, in addition to the preparation of my theological lec- 
tures, was at work on the German edition of my book on 
Bach, which had originally been written in French. Thus 
I missed a second opportunity to become acquainted with 

In Cambridge Professor Francis Crawford Burkitt cham- 
pioned my work and secured its publication in English. 
The excellent translation was made by his pupil, the Rev- 
erend W. Montgomery. My exchanges with these two men 
soon led to a warm friendship. 

While Professor Burkitt saw my views from a purely 


scientific perspective, they met with Dr. Sanday’s approval 
because they supported his own religious position. The 
modem image of Jesus as represented by the liberal school 
of Protestants did not agree with his Catholic leanings. I 
do not here criticize liberal Protestantism, to which I myself 
subscribe, but I disagree with some of its representatives, 
such as Colani and Wrede, already challenged by other 
liberals, for example Sabatier, Menegoz, and Gognel. 

My work also had significance for George Tyrrell. With- 
out scientific documentation of the view that the thought 
and the actions of Jesus were conditioned by eschatology, 
he would not have been able, in his Christianity at the 
Cross-Roads (1910), to portray Jesus as the ethical Apoc- 
alyptic who by His very nature was not Protestant but 

The Historical Jesus 
and the Christianity 
of Today 

As my two books on the life of Jesus 
gradually became known, the question 
was put to me from all sides: What can 
the eschatological Jesus, who lives ex- 
pecting the end of the world and a su- 
pernatural Kingdom of God, be to us? 
I myself had always been preoccupied 
with this question during my studies 
for my books. The satisfaction, which 
I could not help feeling, of having 
solved so many historical riddles about 
the existence of Jesus was accom- 
panied by the painful awareness that 
this new knowledge in the realm of 
history would mean unrest and diffi- 



culty for Christian piety. I comforted myself, however, with 
the words of St. Paul that had been familiar to me from 
childhood: “We can do nothing against the truth, but for 
the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8). 

Since the essential nature of the spiritual is truth, every 
new truth represents a gain. Truth is under all circum- 
stances more valuable than nontruth, and this must apply 
to truth in the realm of history as well as to other kinds of 
truth. Even if it comes in a guise that piety finds strange 
and which at first creates difficulties, the final result can 
never be harmful. It can only mean a deeper piety. Religion 
has, therefore, nothing to fear from a confrontation with 
historical truth. 

How strong would Christian truth stand in the world 
today if its relationship to truth in history were in every 
respect what it should be! Instead of acknowledging its 
rights, whenever historical truth was embarrassing, it was 
presented in some guise, consciously or unconsciously 
twisted, falsified, or denied. Today Christianity finds itself 
in a situation where pursuing historical truth freely is dif- 
ficult because it has been neglected again and again in the 

For example, we find ourselves in an awkward position 
because the early Christians published the writings of the 
Apostles without being sure of their authenticity. For gen- 
erations this issue has been a source of sensitive debate. 
Some feel that, in view of the abundance of material, one 
cannot exclude the possibility that passages in the New 
Testament are not authentic in spite of the valuable content 
in them that we have learned to love. On the other side, 
there are those who want to save the reputation of early 
Christianity by stressing that this hypothesis cannot be 

The Historical Jesus and the Christianity of Today 55 

proven. Yet those who were responsible for this debate 
were scarcely aware of doing anything wrong. They only 
followed the general custom of antiquity, which consisted 
in attributing to famous people works that in reality were 
not their own but expressed their ideas. Because I have 
studied the history of early Christianity and often had oc- 
casion to see the deficiencies concerning historical truth, I 
have become an ardent defender of the truth in our Chris- 
tianity today. 

Ideally, Jesus would have preached religious truth in a 
timeless way and in terms accessible to all succeeding gen- 
erations. That, however, He did not do, and there is no 
doubt a reason for it. 

We must therefore reconcile ourselves to the fact that 
Jesus’ religion of love made its appearance as part of a 
system of thought that anticipated the imminent end of the 
world. We cannot make His images our own. We must 
transpose them into our modern concepts of the world. We 
have done this somewhat covertly until now. 

In spite of what the words of the text said, we managed 
to interpret Jesus’ teaching as if it were in agreement with 
our own worldview. Today, however, it is evident that we 
cannot adapt the teachings of Jesus to our modern concepts: 
we must find some method of interpretation legitimized by 
necessity. We must then recognize that religious truth can 
also pass through various stages. 

How is this to be understood? So far as its essential 
spiritual and ethical nature is concerned, Christianity’s re- 
ligious truth remains the same through the centuries. There 
are only exterior changes caused by different worldviews. 


Thus Jesus’ religion of love, which made its first appearance 
within the framework of late Jewish eschatological expec- 
tation, continues in the late Greek, the medieval, and the 
modern views of the world. Throughout the centuries it 
remains the same. Whether it is interpreted in terms of 
one or another system of thought is of secondary impor- 
tance. What is decisive is solely the influence that the spir- 
itual and ethical truth of this religion has had on mankind 
from its beginning. 

Unlike those who listened to the sermons of Jesus, we 
of today do not expect to see a Kingdom of God that realizes 
itself in supernatural events. We believe that it can only 
come into existence through the power of the spirit of Jesus 
working in our hearts and in the world. The one important 
thing is that we be as thoroughly dominated by the idea of 
the Kingdom of God as Jesus required His followers to be. 

Jesus introduced into the late Jewish Messianic expec- 
tation the powerful idea, expressed in the Beatitudes of the 
Sermon on the Mount, that we may come to know God 
and belong to Him through love. Jesus is not concerned 
with spiritualizing realistic ideas of the Kingdom of God 
and of blessedness. But the spirituality that is the life of 
this religion of love purifies like a flame all ideas that come 
into contact with it. It is the destiny of Christianity to 
develop through a constant process of spiritualization. 

Jesus never undertakes to expound the late Jewish dog- 
mas of the Messiah and the Kingdom. His concern is not 
how believers see things, but that they be motivated by 
love, without which no one can belong to God and attain 
His Kingdom. The Messianic dogma remains in the back- 
ground. If He did not happen to mention it now and then, 
one could forget that it is presupposed at all. That explains 

The Historical Jesus and the Christianity of Today 57 

why it was possible for so long to overlook the fact that His 
religion of love was conditioned by the times in which He 
lived. The late Jewish view of the world, centered in the 
expectation of the Messiah, is the crater from which the 
flame of the eternal religion of love erupted. 

The preacher does not have to expound again and again 
the meaning of this or that passage on the Messianic concept 
of the end of the world. To bring the message of Jesus to 
the men and women of our time, it suffices that they realize 
that Jesus Himself lived in expectation of the end of the 
world and of a Kingdom of God. But whoever preaches the 
Gospel of Jesus to them must explain for himself what His 
sayings originally meant, and must work his way through 
the historical truth to the eternal. During this process he 
will soon realize that the historical circumstances will open 
his eyes, that he will for the first time realize all that Jesus 
has to say to us. 

Many theologians have confirmed my experience that the 
Jesus who is known historically, though He speaks to us 
from a world of thought other than our own, makes preach- 
ing not more difficult but easier. It is profoundly significant 
that whenever we hear the sayings of Jesus we have to 
enter a realm of thought that is not our own. Our own 
affirmative attitude toward the world and toward life con- 
stantly threatens to externalize Christianity. 

The Gospel of Jesus that tells us to expect the end of the 
world turns us away from the path of immediate action 
toward service in behalf of the Kingdom of God. It urges 
us to seek true strength through detachment from this 
world in the spirit of the Kingdom of God. The essence of 
Christianity is an affirmation of the world that has passed 
through a negation of the world. Within a system of thought 


that denies the world and anticipates its end, Jesus sets up 
the eternal ethic of active love! 

If the historical Jesus has something strange about Him, 
His personality as it really is still has a much stronger in- 
fluence on us than the Jesus of dogma or critical scholarship. 
In dogma His personality loses its liveliness. Scholarship 
has so far modernized, and thus reduced, him. 

Anyone who ventures to look the historical Jesus straight 
in the face and to listen for what He may have to teach him 
in His powerful sayings soon ceases to ask what this strange- 
seeming Jesus can still be to him. He learns to know Him 
as the One who claims authority over him. 

The true understanding of Jesus is the understanding of 
will acting on will. The true relation to Him is to become 
His. Christian piety of any and every sort is valuable only 
insofar as it means the surrender of our will to His. 

Today Jesus does not require men to be able to grasp 
either in word or in thought who He is. He did not think 
it necessary to give those who actually heard His sayings 
any insight into the secret of His personality, or to disclose 
to them the fact that He was that descendant of David who 
was one day to be revealed as the Messiah. The one thing 
He did require of them was that in both thought and deed 
they should prove themselves men who had been com- 
pelled by Him to rise from being of this world to being 
other than the world, and thereby partakers of His peace. 

As I studied and thought about Jesus, all this became 
certain in my mind. Because of this, I concluded my Quest 
of the Historical Jesus with these words: “As one unknown 
and nameless He comes to us, just as on the shore of the 

The Historical Jesus and the Christianity of Today 59 

lake He approached those men who knew him not. His 
words are the same: ‘Follow thou Me!’ and He puts us to 
the tasks He has to carry out in our age. He commands. 
And to those who obey, be they wise or simple, He will 
reveal Himself in the fellowship of peace and activity, of 
struggle and suffering, till they come to know, as an inex- 
pressible secret, Who He is . . 

Many people are shocked upon learning that the historical 
Jesus must be accepted as “capable of error” because the 
supernatural Kingdom of God, the manifestation of which 
He announced as imminent, did not appear. What can we 
do in the face of what stands clearly recorded in the Gos- 

Are we acting in the spirit of Jesus if we attempt with 
hazardous and sophisticated explanations to force the say- 
ings into agreement with the dogmatic teaching of His ab- 
solute and universal infallibility? He Himself never made 
any claim to such omniscience. Just as He pointed out to 
the young man who addressed Him as “Good Master” 
(Mark 10:17ff.) that God alone is good, so He would also 
have set Himself against those who would have liked to 
attribute to Him a divine infallibility. Knowledge of spir- 
itual truth cannot be proved by displaying further knowl- 
edge about the events of world history and matters of 
ordinary life. Its province lies on a different plane from the 
knowledge of the affairs of this world, and it is quite in- 
dependent of it. 

Jesus no doubt fits His teaching into the late Jewish 
Messianic dogma. But He does not think dogmatically. He 
formulates no doctrine. Nowhere does He demand of His 


hearers that they sacrifice thinking to believing. Quite the 
contrary! He bids them to reflect upon religion. Within the 
Messianic hopes His hearers carry in their hearts, He kin- 
dles the fire of an ethical faith. The truth that the ethical 
is the essence of religion is firmly established on the au- 
thority of Jesus. 

Beyond this, the religion of love taught by Jesus has been 
freed from any dogmatism that clung to it with the disap- 
pearance of the late Jewish expectation of the immediate 
end of the world. The mold in which the casting was made 
has been broken. We are now at liberty to let the religion 
of Jesus become a living force in our thought, as its purely 
spiritual and ethical nature demands. We recognize the 
deep values of Christianity as transmitted by early Greek 
teaching and kept alive by the piety of many centuries. We 
hold fast to the Church with love, reverence, and gratitude. 
But we belong to her as men who appeal to the saying of 
the Apostle Paul, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there 
is liberty,” and who believe that they serve Christianity 
better by the strength of their devotion to Jesus’ religion 
of love than by submission to all the articles of faith. If the 
Church abides by the spirit of Jesus, there is room in her 
for every form of Christian piety, even for that which claims 
unrestricted freedom. 

I find it no easy task to pursue my vocation, to admonish 
Christian faith to come to terms with itself in all sincerity 
with historical truth. But I have devoted myself to it with 
joy, because I am certain that truthfulness in all things 
belongs to the spirit of Jesus. 

My Work on Bach 

While I was working on The Quest of 
the Historical Jesus I finished a book 
in French on J. S. Bach. Widor, with 
whom I used to spend several weeks 
in Paris every spring, and frequently 
also in the autumn, had complained 
that only biographical works were 
available about Bach in French, and 
nothing that would introduce people 
to his art. I had to promise him that I 
would spend the autumn vacation of 
1902 writing an essay on the nature of 
Bach’s art for the students of the Paris 

This task appealed to me because it 



gave me an opportunity to express thoughts at which I had 
arrived in the course of my theoretical and practical study 
of Bach, as organist to the Bach Society at St. Wilhelm’s. 
This society was founded in 1887 by Ernest Miinch, the 
organist of the Church of St. Wilhelm, with whom I had 
many discussions on the interpretation of Bach. I owe him 
much. Charles Miinch, the distinguished conductor, was 
his son. 

At the end of the vacation, in spite of the most strenuous 
work, I had gotten no further than preliminary studies for 
the treatise. It had also become clear that this would expand 
into a book on Bach. With good courage I resigned myself 
to my fate. 

In 1903 and 1904 I devoted all my spare time to Bach. 
My work was eased by my having acquired a complete 
edition of his works, which was at that time rarely available 
and then only at a very high price. I was thus no longer 
forced to study the scores in the university library, a re- 
striction which had been a great hindrance, since I could 
hardly find any time for Bach except at night. I happened 
to learn at a music shop in Strasbourg of a lady in Paris 
who, in order to support the enterprise of the Bach Society, 
had been a subscriber to the complete edition. She now 
wanted to get rid of the long row of big gray volumes that 
took up so much space on her bookshelves. Pleased at being 
able to give somebody pleasure with them, she let me have 
them for the ridiculously small sum of two hundred marks 
(one hundred dollars). This stroke of luck seemed to be a 
good omen for the success of my work. 

It was, in truth, a very rash undertaking on my part to 
start writing a book on Bach. Although, thanks to extensive 
reading, I had some knowledge of music history and theory, 

My Work on Bach 63 

I had not studied music as one studies for a profession. 
However, my intention was not to produce new historical 
material about Bach and his time. As a musician I wanted 
to talk to other musicians about Bach’s music. So I re- 
solved that the main subject of my work should be what in 
most books hitherto had been too slightly treated, namely 
the real nature of Bach’s music and its interpretation. 
Biographical and historical aspects are only given as an 

If the difficulties in treating such a subject made me fear 
that I had embarked on a task beyond my powers, I con- 
soled myself with the thought that I was not writing for 
Germany, the home of Bach scholarship, but for France, 
where the art of the Cantor of St. Thomas was yet to be 
made known. 

To write the book in French at a time when I was also 
lecturing and preaching in German was an effort. It is true 
that ever since my childhood I have spoken French as 
readily as German. I always used French in my letters to 
my parents because that was the custom in my family. 
German, however, is my mother tongue, because the Al- 
satian dialect, which is my native language, is Germanic. 

I profited much in my work on Bach by the stylistic 
criticism of my manuscript by Hubert Gillot, at that time 
a lecturer in French at the University of Strasbourg. He 
impressed upon me the fact that the French sentence needs 
rhythm in far stronger measure than does the German. I 
can best describe the difference between the two languages 
by saying that in French I seem to be strolling along the 
well-kept paths of a fine park, but in German to be wan- 
dering at will in a magnificent forest. Into literary German 
new life continually flows from the dialects with which it 


has kept in touch. French has lost this ever fresh contact 
with the soil. It is rooted in its literature, and has thereby 
become, in the positive as well as the pejorative sense of 
the word, something finished, while German in the same 
way remains something unfinished. The perfection of 
French consists in its being able to express a thought in 
the clearest and most concise way; that of German in being 
able to present it in its manifold aspects. I consider Rous- 
seau’s Social Contract to be the greatest linguistic crea- 
tion in French. In German, in my view, Luther’s translation 
of the Bible and Nietzsche’s Jenseits von Gut und Bose 
(Beyond Good and Evil) come closest to perfection. 
Always accustomed in French to be careful about the 
rhythmical arrangement of the sentence and to strive for 
simplicity of expression, I required the same in German 
as well. And now through my work on the French Bach it 
became clear to me what literary style corresponded to my 

Like everyone who writes about art, I had to wrestle 
with the difficulty of expressing artistic opinions and 
impressions in words. When we speak about art, we can 
speak only in approximations, in parables. 

In the autumn of 1904 I was able to announce to Widor, 
who had spurred me on again and again with letters and 
who was now in Venice, where he was spending his holiday, 
that the undertaking was at last completed. He immediately 
wrote the preface, which he had promised me. 

The book appeared in 1905, dedicated to Mme Mathilde 
Schweitzer, the wife of my father’s eldest brother in Paris. 
Had she not enabled me to meet Widor in 1893 and, thanks 
to her hospitable house, given me again and again the op- 
portunity of being with him, I should never have come to 
be writing about Bach. 

My Work on Bach 65 

I was surprised and delighted that my work met with 
recognition even in Germany as a valuable contribution to 
the study of Bach, though I had written it merely to fill a 
gap in French musical literature. In the journal Kunstwart 
(Art Guardian) von Liipke suggested a translation. Con- 
sequently, in the autumn of that year, 1905, a German 
edition was agreed upon, to be published by Breitkopf und 

When in the summer of 1906, after the completion of 
The Quest of the Historical Jesus, I turned to work on the 
German edition of Bach, I soon realized that it was im- 
possible for me to translate it into another language myself, 
and that in order to write anything satisfactory, I had to 
plunge anew into the original materials of my book. So I 
closed the French Bach and resolved to make a new and 
better German one. Out of a book of 455 pages there 
emerged, to the dismay of the astonished publisher, one 
of 844. The first pages of the new work I wrote at Bayreuth 
in the Black Horse Inn after a wonderful performance of 
Tristan. For weeks I had been trying in vain to get to work. 
In the mood of exaltation in which I returned from the 
Festival Hill, I succeeded. Accompanied by the babble of 
voices from the Bierhalle below, I began to write, and it 
was long after sunrise before I laid down my pen. From 
that time onward I felt such joy in the work that I concluded 
it in two years, although my medical courses, the prepa- 
ration of my lectures, my preaching activities, and my con- 
cert tours prevented me from working on the manuscript 
as much as I would have liked. I frequently had to put it 
aside for weeks at a time. 

The German edition appeared early in 1908. It is from 
this text that Ernest Newman made his splendid translation 
into English. 


In their fight against Wagner, the anti-Wagnerites appealed 
to the ideal of classical music as they saw it. For them, this 
pure music” excluded any poetic or descriptive elements, 
and its only intention was to create beautiful harmonies to 
absolute perfection. They cited the example of Bach, whose 
works had become better known in the second half of the 
nineteenth century, thanks to the edition of the Bach So- 
ciety at Leipzig. They also claimed Mozart, and they op- 
posed Wagner. Bach’s fugues especially seemed to them 
the indisputable proof that he served their ideal of pure 
music. He was depicted as a classic of this kind by Philipp 
Spitta in his important, comprehensive work, the first in 
which biographical material was based on careful exami- 
nation of sources (1873-1880). 

As a contrast to the Bach of pure music I present the 
Bach who is a poet and painter in sound. In his music and 
in his texts he expresses the emotional as well as the de- 
scriptive with great vitality and clarity. Before all else he 
aims at rendering the pictorial in lines of sound. He is even 
more tone painter than tone poet. His art is nearer to that 
of Berlioz than to that of Wagner. If the text speaks of 
drifting mists, of boisterous winds, of roaring rivers, of 
waves that ebb and flow, of leaves falling from the tree, 
of bells that toll for the dying, of the confident faith that 
walks with firm steps or the weak faith that falters, of the 
proud who will be debased and the humble who will be 
exalted, of Satan rising in rebellion, of angels on the 
clouds of heaven, then one sees and hears all this in his 

Bach has, in fact, his own language of sound. There are 
in his music constantly recurring rhythmical motives ex- 
pressing peaceful bliss, lively joy, intense pain, or sorrow 
sublimely borne. 

The impulse to express poetic and pictorial concepts is 
the essence of music. It addresses itself to the listener’s 
creative imagination and seeks to kindle in him the feelings 
and visions with which the music was composed. But this 

My Work on Bach 67 

it can do only if the person who uses the language of sound 
possesses the mysterious faculty of rendering thoughts with 
a superior clarity and precision. In this respect Bach is the 
greatest of the great. 

His music is poetic and descriptive because its themes 
are born of poetic and pictorial ideas. Out of these themes 
the composition unfolds, a finished piece of architecture in 
lines of sound. What is in its essence poetic and pictorial 
music appears as Gothic architecture transformed into 
sound. What is greatest in this art, so full of natural life, 
so wonderfully plastic, and unique in the perfection of its 
form, is the spirit that emanates from it. A soul that longs 
for peace out of the world’s unrest and has itself already 
tasted peace allows others to share its experience in this 

In order to produce its full effect, the art of Bach must 
be performed with lively and perfect plasticity. This prin- 
ciple, which is fundamental to its interpretation, is not 
always recognized. 

To begin with, it is a crime against the style of Bach’s 
music that we perform it with huge orchestras and enor- 
mous choirs. The cantatas and the Passion music were writ- 
ten for choirs of twenty-five to thirty voices and an orchestra 
of about the same number. Bach’s orchestra does not ac- 
company the choir: it is a partner with equal rights. There 
is no such thing as an orchestral equivalent to a choir of a 
hundred and fifty voices. We therefore should provide for 
the performance of Bach’s music choirs of forty to fifty voices 
and orchestras of fifty to sixty instrumentalists. The won- 
derful interweaving of the voice parts must stand out, clear 
and distinct. For alto and soprano, Bach did not use wom- 
en’s voices but boys’ voices only, even for the solos. Choirs 
of male voices form a homogeneous whole. At the very 
least, then, women’s voices should be supplemented with 
boys’, but the ideal is that even the alto and soprano solos 
be sung by boys. 

Since the music of Bach is architectural, the crescendos 


and decrescendos, which in Beethoven’s and post-Bee- 
thoven music are responses to emotional experiences, are not 
appropriate. Alternations of forte and piano are significant 
only insofar as they serve to emphasize leading phrases and 
to leave subsidiary ones less prominent. It is only within 
the limits of these alternations of forte and piano that de- 
clamatory crescendos and diminuendos are admissible. If 
they obliterate the difference between forte and piano, they 
ruin the architecture of the composition. 

Since a Bach fugue always begins and ends with a main 
theme, it cannot tolerate any beginning and ending in 

Bach is played altogether too fast. Music that presup- 
poses a visual comprehension of lines of sound advancing 
side by side becomes chaos for the listener; high speed 
makes comprehension impossible. 

Yet it is not so much by tempo as by phrasing — which 
makes the lines of sound stand out before the listener in a 
living plasticity — that appreciation for the life that animates 
Bach’s music is made possible. 

Down to the middle of the nineteenth century, Bach was 
generally played, curiously enough, staccato, but players 
since then have gone to the other extreme of rendering 
him with a monotonous legato. But as time went on, it 
occurred to me that Bach calls for phrasing that is full of 
life. He thinks as a violinist. His notes should be connected 
and at the same time separated from one another in a way 
that is natural to the bowing of a violin. To play one of 
Bach’s piano compositions well means to play it as it would 
be performed by a string quartet. 

Correct phrasing is to be attained by correct accenting. 
Bach demands that the notes decisive in the musical design 
are given an accent. A characteristic of each section’s struc- 
ture is that as a rule they do not start with an accent but 
strive to reach one. They are conceived as beginning with 
an upward beat. In addition, in Bach the accents of the 

My Work on Bach 69 

lines of sound do not as a rule coincide with the natural 
accents of the bars but advance side by side with them in 
their own way. From this tension between the accents of 
the line of sound and those of the bars comes the extraor- 
dinary rhythmical vitality of Bach’s music. 

These are the external requirements for the performance 
of Bach’s music. Above and beyond those, his music de- 
mands that we men and women attain the composure and 
inwardness that will enable us to bring to life something of 
the deep spirit lying hidden within it. 

The ideas I put forward about the nature of Bach s music 
and the appropriate way of rendering it found recognition 
because they appeared just at the right time. The interest 
aroused by the publication toward the end of the last cen- 
tury of the complete edition of his works had made the 
musical world aware that Bach was not synonymous with 
academic and classical music. People were also in the dark 
about the traditional method of performing it, and they 
began to look for a method that would match Bach’s style. 
But this new knowledge had as yet neither been formulated 
nor grounded. And so my book aired for the first time the 
views that musicians especially concerned with Bach had 
been mulling over in their minds. Thus I won many a 

With pleasure I think of the many delightful letters it 
brought me immediately after it appeared. Felix Mottl, the 
conductor, whom I had admired from a distance, wrote to 
me from Leipzig, after having read the book straight 
through without a break, in the train and in his hotel on 
his way to that town from Munich, where some friends had 
given him the book for the journey. I met him soon after, 


and later on several occasions enjoyed some happy hours 
with him. 

It was through this book that I became acquainted with 
Siegfried Ochs, the Berlin Bach conductor, and developed 
a friendship that has grown continually closer. 

Carmen Sylva, Queen of Romania, wrote me a long letter 
because I had made her beloved Bach still dearer to her, 
and it was followed by a whole series of others. The latest 
of them, directed to Africa, was painfully written with a 
pencil because her hand, which suffered from rheumatism, 
could no longer hold a pen. I could not accept the fre- 
quently repeated invitation of this regal friend to spend my 
vacation at her castle in Sinaya, which carried with it the 
obligation to play the organ for her two hours a day. In the 
last years before my departure for Africa I could not afford 
the time for a holiday. By the time I did return home she 
was no longer among the living. 

On Organs and 
Organ Building 

As a corollary to the book on Bach, I 
published a study on the construction 
of organs. I had written it in the fall of 
1905, before beginning my medical 

From my grandfather Schillinger I 
had inherited an interest in organ 
building, which impelled me, while 
still a boy, to get to know all about the 
workings of an organ. 

The organs of the late nineteenth 
century had a strange effect on me. 
Although they were praised as mira- 
cles of advanced technology, I could 
find no pleasure in them. In the au- 



tumn of 1896, after my first visit to Bayreuth, I made a 
detour to Stuttgart. There I examined the new organ in the 
Liederhalle of that town, about which the newspapers had 
published enthusiastic reports. Herr Lang, the organist of 
the Stiftskirche, an outstanding musician and personality, 
was kind enough to show it to me. When I heard the harsh 
tone of the much praised instrument, and when in the Bach 
fugue Lang played for me I perceived a chaos of sounds in 
which I could not distinguish the separate voices, my sus- 
picion that the modern organ was a step not forward but 
backward suddenly became a certainty. 

To confirm my suspicion and to find out why this should 
be so, I used my free time over the next few years getting 
to know as many organs, old and new, as possible. I also 
talked with all the organists and organ builders with whom 
I came in contact. As a rule I met with ridicule and jeers. 
The pamphlet in which I undertook to define the qualities 
of the true organ was also understood at first by only a 
scattered few. It appeared in 1906, ten years after my visit 
to Stuttgart, and bears the title The Art of Organ-Building 
and Organ-Playing in Germany and France. In it I ac- 
knowledge a preference for the French style of organ build- 
ing over the German, because in several respects it has 
remained faithful to the traditions of the art. 

If the old organs sound better than those built today, it is 
often because they have been better positioned. The best 
place for an organ, if the nave of the church is not too long, 
is above the entrance, opposite the chancel. There it stands 
high and free, and the sound can travel unhindered in every 

In the case of very long naves it is better to build the 

On Organs and Organ Building 73 

organ at a certain height on the side wall of the nave, about 
halfway along it, thereby avoiding the echo that would spoil 
the clarity of the playing. There are still many European 
cathedrals in which the organ hangs thus, like a “swallow’s 
nest,” for example in the Cathedral at Strasbourg, pro- 
jecting into the middle of the nave. Placed like this, an 
organ of forty stops develops the power of one with sixty! 

Today the effort to build organs as large as possible com- 
bined with the object of having the organ and the choir 
close together frequently places the organ in an unfavorable 

If there is room in the gallery above the entrance only 
for a moderate-sized organ, as is often the case, the instru- 
ment is placed in the chancel, an arrangement that has the 
practical advantage of keeping the organ and the choir close 
together. But an organ standing on the ground can never 
produce the same sound effect as one placed above. From 
the ground position the sound is hindered in its expansion, 
especially if the church is full. How many organs, partic- 
ularly in England, while good in themselves, are unable to 
produce their full effect because of their position in the 

The alternative method of positioning organ and choir 
close together is to devote the western gallery to the choir 
and the orchestra (if there is one) and to place the organ 
in some confined and vaulted space where it cannot sound 
properly. Among some modem architects it is assumed that 
any comer will do for the organ. 

In recent times architects and organ builders have begun 
to overcome the difficulty of distance, thanks to pneumatic 
or electric connections between keyboard and pipes. The 
different parts of the organ can now be put in different 
places and still sound together. This technique has become 
especially common in America, and the effects may impress 
the crowd. The organ can only display its full, majestic 
effects however, as a unified instrument. Then, from its 


natural place above the listeners, the sounds can flood the 
nave of the church. 

If the church is good-sized and has a strong chorus and 
orchestra, the only correct solution to the choir and organ 
problem is to place both chorus and orchestra in the 
church’s choir, with a small organ standing near them for 
accompaniment. If that is done it is of course impossible 
for the organist at the large organ to be at the same time 
the conductor of the chorus. 

The best organs were built between about 1850 and 1880, 
when organ builders, who were artists, availed them- 
selves of technological developments in order to realize 
as completely as they could the ideals of Silbermann and 
the other great organ builders of the eighteenth century. 
The most important of them is Aristide Cavaille-Col, the 
creator of the organs at St. Sulpice and Notre Dame in 
Paris. The organ in St. Sulpice — completed in 1862 — I 
consider to be, in spite of a few deficiencies, the finest of 
all the organs I know. It functions as well today as it did 
on the first day, and with proper maintenance it will do 
the same two centuries hence. The organ in Notre Dame 
has suffered from being exposed to the inclemencies of 
weather during the war, when the stained-glass windows 
were removed. Many a time have I met the venerable 
Cavaille-Col — he died in 1899 — at the organ in St. Sulpice, 
where he used to appear for the service every Sunday. One 
of his favorite maxims was: “An organ sounds best when 
there is so much space between the pipes that a man can 
get round each one.” 

Of the other representative organ builders of that period 
I value especially Ladegast in northern Germany, Walcker 
in southern Germany, and certain English and northern 

On Organs and Organ Building 75 

masters who, like Ladegast, were influenced by Cavaille- 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century the master 
organ builders became organ manufacturers, and those who 
were not willing to follow this course were ruined. Since 
that time people no longer ask whether an organ has a good 
tone, but ask whether it is provided with every possible 
modern arrangement for altering the stops, and whether it 
contains the greatest possible number of stops for the lowest 
possible price. With incredible blindness they tear out the 
beautiful old works of their organs; instead of restoring them 
with reverence and the care they deserve, they replace 
them with products of the factory. 

Holland is the country with the greatest appreciation for 
the beauty and value of old organs. The organists of that 
country were not discouraged by the difficulties of playing 
the old instruments with some of their technical disadvan- 
tages. As a result there are in the churches of Holland today 
numerous organs, large and small, which with appropriate 
restoration will in the course of time lose their technical 
imperfections and keep their beauty of sound. There is 
scarcely any country so rich as Holland in splendid old organ 
cases as well. 

Little by little the idea of reform in organ building that I 
had put forward in my essay began to attract attention. At 
the Congress of the International Music Society held in 
Vienna in 1909, on the suggestion of Guido Adler, provision 
was made for the first time for a section on organ building. 
In this section some like-minded members joined me in 
working out a set of “International Regulations for Organ 
Building, which put an end to the blind admiration for 


purely technical achievements and called for the production 
once more of carefully built instruments of fine tone. 

In the years that followed people perceived that the really 
good organ must combine the beautiful tone of the old 
organs with the technical advantages of the new. Twenty- 
two years after its first appearance, my essay on organ build- 
ing was reprinted without change as the generally accepted 
program of reform; with an appendix on the present state 
of the organ-building industry it thus became a kind of 
jubilee edition. 

Although the monumental organs of the eighteenth cen- 
tury, as they were later perfected by Cavaille-Col and oth- 
ers, are to my mind the ideal so far as tone is concerned, 
lately in Germany historians of music have been trying to 
return to the organ of Bach’s day. That, however, is not 
the ideal organ, only its forerunner. It lacks the majestic 
sonority that is part of the organ’s essential nature. Art aims 
at the absolute; it does not establish the archaic as its ideal. 
We may say of it, “When that which is perfect has come, 
that which is incomplete shall disappear.” 

Although these simple truths about how to produce an 
artistically sound organ have by now been recognized, their 
practical application is overdue. That is because organs are 
built today in factories on a large scale. Commercial inter- 
ests obstruct artistic ones. The carefully built and really 
effective organ ends up being 30 percent more expensive 
than the factory organ, which dominates the market. The 
organ builder who wants to supply something really good, 
therefore, risks his all on the venture. Very rarely indeed 
can church authorities be persuaded that they are right in 
paying for an instrument with thirty-three stops a sum that 
could procure them one with forty. 

I was talking once at Strasbourg about organs and organ 

On Organs and Organ Building 77 

building to a confectioner with musical tastes, and he said 
to me, “So it’s just the same with organ building as with 
confectionery! People today don’t know what a good organ 
is, nor do they know what good confectionery is. No one 
remembers how things taste that are made with fresh milk, 
fresh cream, fresh butter, fresh eggs, the best oil, and the 
best lard, and natural fruit juice, and are sweetened with 
sugar and nothing else. They are, one and all, accustomed 
nowadays to find quite satisfactory what is made with 
canned milk, dehydrated egg, with the cheapest oil and 
the cheapest lard, with synthetic fruit juice and any sort of 
sweetening, because they are not offered anything differ- 
ent. Not understanding what quality means, they are sat- 
isfied so long as things look nice. If I were to attempt to 
make and sell the good things I used to make, I would lose 
my customers, because, like the good organ builder, I 
would be about thirty percent too expensive. ...” 
Through my organ recitals in almost all the countries of 
Europe I realize how far we still are from the ideal instru- 
ment. Yet the day must come when organists will demand 
really sound, well-built instruments, and will force organ 
builders to abandon the production of factory organs. But 
when will the ideal triumph over circumstance? 

I have sacrificed a great deal of time and labor to struggle 
for the true organ. I have spent many a night over organ 
designs sent to me for approval or revision. I have under- 
taken many journeys to study on the spot the problems 
involved in restoring or rebuilding an organ. I have written 
hundreds of letters to bishops, deans, presidents of con- 
sistories, mayors, ministers, church committees, church 
elders, organ builders, and organists, trying to convince 


them that they ought to restore their fine old organs instead 
of replacing them with new ones; and I have urged them 
to consider the quality, not the number, of the stops, and 
to spend money to have pipes made of the best material, 
and not to equip the console with superfluous alterations 
in the registers. And how often did these many letters, 
these many journeys, and these many conversations prove 
ultimately futile, because the people concerned decided 
finally for the factory organ, the specifications for which 
look so fine on paper! 

The hardest struggles went to preserving the old organs. 
What eloquence I had to employ to obtain the rescinding 
of death sentences that had already been passed on beau- 
tiful old organs! How many organists received the news 
with the same incredulous laughter — as did Sarah when 
she received the news that she was to have descendants! — 
that the organs they prized so little, because of their age 
and their ruinous condition, were beautiful instruments and 
must be preserved. How many organists were changed 
from friends to foes because I was the obstacle to their plan 
of replacing their old organ with one built in a factory! I 
was also taken to task for my advice that they accept fewer 
registers than they had proposed for the sake of quality. 

Today I still have to look on helplessly while noble old 
organs are rebuilt and enlarged until not a trace of their 
original beauty is left, just because they are not powerful 
enough to suit present-day taste. Occasionally I still even 
see them dismantled and replaced at great cost by vulgar 
products of the factory! 

The first old organ I rescued — and what a task it was! — 
was Silbermann’s fine instrument at St. Thomas, Stras- 

On Organs and Organ Building 79 

“In Africa he saves old blacks, in Europe old organs” is 
what my friends said of me. 

The building of the so-called giant organs I consider 
to be a modem aberration. An organ should be only as 
large as the nave of the church requires and the place re- 
served for it permits. A really good organ with seventy to 
eighty stops, if it stands at a certain height and has open 
space all round it, can fill the largest church. When asked 
to name the largest and finest organ in the world, I gener- 
ally answer that from what I have heard and read there 
must be 127 that are the largest, and 137 that are the finest 
in the world. 

I was not as interested in concert organs as I was in church 
organs. The best organs cannot sound with full effect in a 
concert hall. Owing to the crowds that fill the halls, the 
organ loses brilliance and fullness of tone. Moreover, ar- 
chitects generally push the concert organ into any corner 
that is convenient and where it cannot sound properly 
under any circumstances. The organ demands a stone- 
vaulted building in which the presence of a congregation 
does not mean that the room feels choked. In a concert 
hall an organ does not have the character of a solo instru- 
ment that it has in a church; rather, it accompanies or 
supplements choir and orchestra. Composers will certainly 
use an organ with the orchestra much more in the future 
than they have done in the past. Used in that way the 
resulting sound draws brilliance and flexibility from the 
orchestra and fullness from the organ. The technical sig- 
nificance of supplementing the modern orchestra with an 
organ is that the orchestra secures flutelike tones for its 


bass, and thus for the first time has a bass that corresponds 
in character to its higher notes. 

Playing an organ with an orchestra in a concert hall gives 
me great joy. But if I find myself in the position of having 
to play it in such a hall as a solo instrument, I try not to 
treat it as a secular concert instrument. Through my choice 
of pieces and the way I play them, I try to turn the concert 
hall into a church. But best of all I like in both church and 
concert hall to introduce a choir and thus change the concert 
into a kind of service, in which the choir responds to the 
choral prelude of the organ by singing the chorale itself. 

Because of the continuity of its tone, which can be main- 
tained as long as desired, the organ has in it an element of 
the eternal. Even in a secular room it cannot become a 
secular instrument. 

That I have had the joy of seeing my ideal of a church 
organ very largely realized in certain modem organs I owe 
to the artistic ability of the Alsatian organ builder Frederic 
Haerpfer — who formed his ideas from the organs built by 
Silbermann — coupled with the good sense of those church 
councils that allowed themselves to be persuaded to order 
not the largest but the best organ that the money at their 
disposal could buy. 

The work and the worry caused by my practical interest 
in organ building made me wish sometimes that I had never 
gotten involved in it. If I do not give it up, it is because 
the fight for a good organ is to my mind part of the fight 
for truth. And when on Sundays I think of this or that church 
in which a noble organ is ringing out because I saved it 
from being replaced by an unworthy instrument, I feel 
richly rewarded for all the time and trouble I have taken 
over the course of more than thirty years in the interests 
of organ building. 

I Resolve to Become 
a Jungle Doctor 

On October 13, 1905, I dropped into 
a letter box on the avenue de la Grande 
Armee in Paris letters to my parents 
and to some of my closest friends tell- 
ing them that at the beginning of the 
winter term I would embark on the 
study of medicine with the idea of later 
going out to equatorial Africa as a doc- 
tor. In one letter I submitted my res- 
ignation from the post of principal of 
the Collegium Wilhelmitanum (the 
theological seminary of St. Thomas) 
because of the time my studies would 

The plan I hoped to realize had been 



in my mind for some time. Long ago in my student days I 
had thought about it. It struck me as inconceivable that I 
should be allowed to lead such a happy life while I saw so 
many people around me struggling with sorrow and suf- 
fering. Even at school I had felt stirred whenever I caught 
a glimpse of the miserable home surroundings of some of 
my classmates and compared them with the ideal conditions 
in which we children of the parsonage at Giinsbach had 
lived. At the university, enjoying the good fortune of study- 
ing and even getting some results in scholarship and the 
arts, I could not help but think continually of others who 
were denied that good fortune by their material circum- 
stances or their health. 

One brilliant summer morning at Giinsbach, during the 
Whitsuntide holidays — it was in 1896 — as I awoke, the 
thought came to me that I must not accept this good fortune 
as a matter of course, but must give something in return. 

While outside the birds sang I reflected on this thought, 
and before I had gotten up I came to the conclusion that 
until I was thirty I could consider myself justified in de- 
voting myself to scholarship and the arts, but after that I 
would devote myself directly to serving humanity. I had 
already tried many times to find the meaning that lay hid- 
den in the saying of Jesus: “Whosoever would save his life 
shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life for My sake 
and the Gospels shall save it.” Now I had found the answer. 

I could now add outward to inward happiness. 

What the character of my future activities would be was 
not yet clear to me. I left it to chance to guide me. Only 
one thing was certain, that it must be direct human service, 
however inconspicuous its sphere. 

I naturally thought first of some activity in Europe. I 
formed a plan for taking charge of and educating abandoned 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 83 

or neglected children, then making them pledge to help 
children later on in a similar situation in the same way. 
When in 1903, as director of the theological seminary I 
moved into my roomy and sunny official quarters on the 
second floor of the College of St. Thomas, I was in a position 
to begin the experiment. I offered help now in one place, 
now in another, but always to no avail. The charters of the 
organizations that looked after destitute and abandoned 
children had made no provisions for accepting volunteers. 
For example, when the Strasbourg orphanage burned 
down, I offered to take in a few boys temporarily, but the 
superintendent did not even let me finish my sentence. I 
made similar attempts elsewhere also in vain. 

For a time I thought I would someday devote myself to 
tramps and discharged convicts. To prepare myself for this 
I joined the Reverend Augustus Ernst at St. Thomas in an 
undertaking he had begun. Between one and two in the 
afternoon he remained at home ready to speak to anyone 
who came to him asking for help or a night’s lodging. He 
did not, however, give the applicant money, nor did he 
make him wait until the information about his circum- 
stances could be confirmed. Instead he would offer to look 
up the applicant in his home or shelter that very afternoon 
and verify the information he had been given about the 
situation. After this, he would give him all necessary as- 
sistance for as long as was needed. How many bicycle rides 
did we make into town or the suburbs, and quite often only 
to find that the applicant was unknown at the address he 
had given. In many cases, however, it provided an oppor- 
tunity for giving appropriate help, with knowledge of the 
circumstances. I also had friends who kindly contributed 
money to this cause. 

As a student, I had been active in social service as a 


member of the student association known as the Diaconate 
of St. Thomas, which held its meetings in the St. Thomas 
seminary. Each of us had a certain number of poor families 
assigned to him, which he was to visit every week, taking 
some aid and then reporting about their situation. The 
funds we thus distributed we collected from members of 
the old Strasbourg families who supported this undertaking, 
begun by earlier generations and now carried on by our- 
selves. Twice a year, if I remember correctly, each of us 
had to make a fixed number of financial appeals. For me, 
being shy and rather awkward in society, these visits were 
a torture. I believe that in this preparatory experience of 
soliciting funds, which I had to do much more of in later 
years, I sometimes showed myself extremely unskillful. 
However, I learned through them that soliciting with tact 
and restraint is better appreciated than any sort of aggres- 
sive approach, and also that correct soliciting methods in- 
clude the friendly acceptance of refusal. 

In our youthful inexperience we no doubt often failed, 
in spite of our best intentions, to use the money entrusted 
to us in the wisest way. The expectations of the givers were, 
however, fulfilled with respect to their purpose — that 
young men should devote themselves to serve the poor. 
For that reason I think with deep gratitude of those who 
met our efforts with so much understanding and generosity, 
and hope that many students may have the privilege of 
working as recruits in the struggle against poverty. 

As I worried about the homeless and former convicts it 
became clear to me that they could only be effectively 
helped if many individuals devoted themselves to them. 
At the same time, however, I realized that in many cases 
individuals could only accomplish their tasks in collabora- 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 85 

tion with official organizations. But what I wanted was an 
absolutely personal and independent activity. 

Although I was resolved to put my services at the disposal 
of some organization if it should become really necessary, 
I nonetheless never gave up the hope of finding an activity 
to which I could devote myself as an individual and as a 
wholly free agent. I have always considered it an ever re- 
newed grace that I could fulfill this profound desire. 

One morning in the autumn of 1904 I found on my writ- 
ing table in the seminary one of the green-covered maga- 
zines in which the Paris Missionary Society (La Societe 
Evangelique des Missions a Paris) reported on its activities 
every month. A Miss Scherdlin used to pass them on to 
me. She knew that in my youth I had been impressed by 
the letters from Mr. Casalis, one of the first missionaries 
of this society. My father had read them to us in his mission 

Without paying much attention, I leafed through the 
magazine that had been put on my table the night before. 
As I was about to turn to my studies, I noticed an article 
with the headline “Les besoins de la Mission du Congo” 
(“The needs of the Congo Mission,” in the Journal des 
Missions Evangeliques, June 1904). It was by Alfred Boeg- 
ner, the president of the Paris Missionary Society, an Al- 
satian, who complained in it that the mission did not have 
enough people to carry on its work in the Gaboon, the 
northern province of the Congo colony. The writer ex- 
pressed the hope that his appeal would bring some of those 
“on whom the Master’s eyes already rested” to a decision 
to offer themselves for this urgent work. The article con- 
cluded: “Men and women who can reply simply to the 
Master’s call, ‘Lord, I am coming,’ those are the people 


the Church needs.” I finished my article and quietly began 
my work. My search was over. 

I spent my thirtieth birthday a few months later like the 
man in the parable who, “desiring to build a tower, first 
calculates the cost of completion whether he has the means 
to complete it.” The result was a resolve to realize my plan 
of direct human service in equatorial Africa. 

Aside from one trustworthy friend, no one knew of my 
intention. When it became known through the letters I had 
sent from Paris, I had hard battles to fight with my relatives 
and friends. They reproached me more for not taking them 
into my confidence and discussing the decision with them 
than they did for the enterprise itself. With this secondary 
issue they tormented me beyond measure during those 
difficult weeks. That theological friends should outdo the 
others in their protests struck me as all the more absurd 
because they had no doubt all preached a fine sermon — 
perhaps a very fine one — that quoted Paul’s declaration in 
his letter to the Galatians that he “did not confer with flesh 
or blood” before he knew what he would do for Jesus. 

My relatives and friends reproached me for the folly of 
my enterprise. They said I was a man who was burying the 
talent entrusted to him and wanted to trade in false cur- 
rency. I ought to leave work among Africans to those who 
would not thereby abandon gifts and achievements in schol- 
arship and the arts. Widor, who loved me as a son, scolded 
me for acting like a general who, rifle in hand, insists on 
fighting in the firing line (there was no talk about trenches 
at that time). A lady who was filled with the modern spirit 
proved to me that I could do much more by lecturing on 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 87 

behalf of medical help for Africans than I could by the 
course of action I contemplated. The aphorism from 
Goethe’s Faust , “In the beginning was the Deed,” was now 
out of date, she said, “Today propaganda is the mother of 

In the many adversarial debates I had to endure with 
people who passed for Christians, it amazed me to see them 
unable to perceive that the desire to serve the love 
preached by Jesus may sweep a man into a new course of 
life. They read in the New Testament that it can do so, and 
found it quite in order there. 

I had assumed that familiarity with the sayings of Jesus 
would give a much better comprehension of what to popular 
logic is not rational. Several times, indeed, my appeal to 
the obedience that Jesus’ command of love requires under 
certain circumstances earned me an accusation of conceit. 
How I suffered to see so many people assuming the right 
to tear open the doors and shutters of my inner self! 

In general, neither allowing them to see that I was hurt 
nor letting them know the thought that had given birth to 
my resolution was of any use. They thought there must be 
something behind it all, and guessed at disappointment 
with the slow development of my career. For this there 
were no grounds at all, in that, even as a young man, I had 
received as much recognition as others usually get only 
after a whole life of toil and struggle. Unhappy love was 
another reason alleged for my decision. 

The attitude of people who did not try to explore my 
feelings, but regarded me as a young man not quite right 
in the head and treated me with correspondingly affection- 
ate ridicule, represented a real kindness. 

I felt it to be quite natural in itself that family and friends 


should challenge the rationality of my plan. As one who 
demands that idealists should be sober in their views, I was 
aware that every venture down an untrodden path is a 
venture that looks sensible and likely to be successful only 
under unusual circumstances. In my own case I held the 
venture to be justified, because I had considered it for a 
long time and from every point of view, and I thought that 
I had good health, sound nerves, energy, practical common 
sense, toughness, prudence, very few wants, and every- 
thing else that might be necessary for the pursuit of my 
idea. I believed, further, that I had the inner fortitude to 
endure any eventual failure of my plan. 

As a man of independent action, I have since that time been 
approached for my opinion and advice by many people who 
wanted to risk a similar venture. Only in comparatively few 
cases have I taken the responsibility of giving them en- 
couragement. I often had to recognize that the need “to do 
something special” was born of a restless spirit. Such people 
wanted to dedicate themselves to larger tasks because those 
that lay nearest did not satisfy them. Often, too, it was 
evident that they were motivated by quite secondary con- 
siderations. Only a person who finds value in any kind of 
activity and who gives of himself with a full sense of service 
has the right to choose an exceptional task instead of fol- 
lowing a common path. Only a person who feels his pref- 
erence to be a matter of course, not something out of the 
ordinary, and who has no thought of heroism but only of a 
duty undertaken with sober enthusiasm, is capable of be- 
coming the sort of spiritual pioneer the world needs. There 
are no heroes of action — only heroes of renunciation and 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 89 

suffering. Of these there are plenty. But few of them are 
known, and even they not to the crowd, but to the few. 

Carlyle’s On Heroes and Hero-Worship is not a profound 

The majority of those who feel the impulse and are ac- 
tually capable of devoting their lives to independent action 
are compelled by circumstances to renounce that course. 
As a rule they have to provide for one or more dependents, 
or they have to stay with their profession in order to earn 
a living. Only a person who, thanks to his own efforts or 
the devotion of friends, is free from material needs can 
nowadays take the risk of undertaking such a personal task. 

This was not so much the case in earlier times because 
anyone who gave up remunerative work could still hope to 
get through life somehow or other, but anyone thinking of 
doing such a thing in the difficult economic conditions of 
today runs the risk of coming to grief both materially and 

I know not only by what I have observed but also by 
experience that there are worthy and capable people who 
have had to renounce a course of independent action that 
would have been of great value to the world because of 
circumstances that made it impossible. 

Those who are given the chance to embark on a life of 
independent action must accept their good fortune in a 
spirit of humility. They must often think of those who, 
though equally willing and capable, were not in a position 
to do the same. And as a rule they must temper their own 
strong determination with humility. Almost always they 
must search and wait until they find a path that will permit 
the action they long to take. Fortunate are those who have 
received more years of creative work than years of searching 


and waiting. Fortunate those who succeed in giving them- 
selves genuinely and completely. 

These favored souls must also be humble so as not to get 
irritated by the resistance they encounter, but to accept it 
as inevitable. Anyone who proposes to do good must not 
expect people to roll any stones out of his way, and must 
calmly accept his lot even if they roll a few more into it. 
Only force that in the face of obstacles becomes stronger 
can win. Force that is used only to revolt wastes itself. 

Of all the will toward the ideal in mankind only a small 
part can manifest itself in public action. All the rest of this 
force must be content with small and obscure deeds. The 
sum of these, however, is a thousand times stronger than 
the acts of those who receive wide public recognition. The 
latter, compared to the former, are like the foam on the 
waves of a deep ocean. 

The hidden forces of goodness are alive in those who 
serve humanity as a secondary pursuit, those who cannot 
devote their full life to it. The lot of most people is to have 
a job, to earn their living, and to assume for themselves a 
place in society through some kind of nonfulfilling labor. 
They can give little or nothing of their human qualities. 
The problems arising from progressive specialization and 
mechanization of labor can only be partly resolved through 
the concessions society is willing to make in its economic 
planning. It is always essential that the individuals them- 
selves not suffer their fate passively, but expend all their 
energies in affirming their own humanity through some 
spiritual engagement, even if the conditions are unfavor- 

One can save one’s life as a human being, along with 
one’s professional existence, if one seizes every oppor- 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 91 

tunity, however unassuming, to act humanly toward those 
who need another human being. In this way we serve both 
the spiritual and the good. Nothing can keep us from this 
second job of direct human service. So many opportunities 
are missed because we let them pass by. 

Everyone in his own environment must strive to practice 
true humanity toward others. The future of the world de- 
pends on it. 

Great values are lost at every moment because we miss 
opportunities, but the values that are turned into will and 
action constitute a richness that must not be undervalued. 
Our humanity is by no means as materialistic as people 
claim so complacently. 

Judging by what I have learned about men and women, 
I am convinced that far more idealistic aspiration exists than 
is ever evident. Just as the rivers we see are much less 
numerous than the underground streams, so the idealism 
that is visible is minor compared to what men and women 
carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. Man- 
kind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish 
the task of untying what is knotted and bringing the un- 
derground waters to the surface. 

What to my friends seemed most irrational in my plan 
was that I wanted to go to Africa, not as a missionary, but 
as a doctor. Already thirty years of age, I would burden 
myself with long and laborious study. I never doubted for 
an instant that these studies would require an immense 
effort, and I anticipated the coming years with anxiety. But 
the reasons that made me determined to enter into the 
service I had chosen as a doctor weighed so heavily that 
other considerations were as dust in the balance and 
counted for nothing. 


I wanted to be a doctor so that I might be able to work 
without having to talk. For years I had been giving of myself 
in words, and it was with joy that I had followed the calling 
of theological teacher and preacher. But this new form of 
activity would consist not in preaching the religion of love, 
but in practicing it. Medical knowledge would make it pos- 
sible for me to carry out my intention in the best and most 
complete way, wherever the path of service might lead me. 

Given my choice of equatorial Africa, acquiring this 
knowledge was especially appropriate because in the dis- 
trict to which I planned to go a doctor was, according to 
the missionaries’ reports, the most urgent of all its needs. 
In their reports and magazines they always regretted that 
they could not provide help for the Africans who came in 
great physical pain. I was greatly motivated to study med- 
icine and become, one day, the doctor whom these unhappy 
people needed. Whenever I was tempted to feel that the 
years I should have to sacrifice were too long, I reminded 
myself that Hamilcar and Hannibal had prepared for their 
march on Rome by their slow and tedious conquest of Spain. 

There was still one more reason why it seemed to be my 
destiny to become a doctor. From what I knew of the Paris 
Missionary Society, I could not but feel very doubtful that 
they would accept me as a missionary. 

It was in pietistic and orthodox circles that at the beginning 
of the nineteenth century societies were first formed for 
preaching the Gospel in the pagan world. About the same 
time, liberal Christendom also began to comprehend the 
need for carrying the teaching of Jesus to far-off lands. But 
when it came to action, orthodox Protestantism was first. 
It maintained lively and active organizations on the fringes 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 93 

of the main Church, and these were able to carry out their 
own independent activities. At that time the liberal Prot- 
estants were strong, but preoccupied with inner govern- 
mental problems in their Church. Moreover, the orthodox 
bodies with their pietistic ideas of “saving souls” had a 
stronger motive for mission work than did liberal Protes- 
tants. For them, the Gospel signified most of all a force for 
the regeneration of individual morality and for the human 
condition in general. 

Once the missionary societies inspired by pietism and 
orthodoxy got to work they found support in liberal circles 
that were friendly to missions. These believed for a long 
time that they would not have to found their own missionary 
societies, but that by joining those in existence, all Prot- 
estants would eventually work together. They were mis- 
taken, however. Indeed, the societies accepted all the 
material help offered them by liberal Protestantism — how 
hard my father and his liberal colleagues in Alsace had 
worked for missionary societies that had a quite different 
doctrinal outlook! — but they never sent out missionaries 
who would not accept their own doctrinal requirements. 

Because liberal Protestantism did not organize mission- 
ary activities for a long time, it earned the reputation for 
neither realizing its importance nor doing anything about 
it. Finally it did found its own societies, but it was too late, 
and the hope that there could be one mission working in 
the name of the Protestant Church was lost. 

I was always interested to discover that the missionaries 
themselves were more liberal in their thinking than the 
officials of their societies. Experience had, of course, taught 
them that in foreign lands, especially among the native 
people, the problem of dogmatic constraint versus liber- 
alism that plagued European Christianity did not exist. The 
important thing out there is to preach the essentials of the 
Gospel as given in the Sermon on the Mount and to lead 
people to the spiritual realm of Jesus. 


My father had a special sympathy for the Paris Missionary 
Society, because he thought he could detect in it a more 
liberal tendency than in the others. He particularly appre- 
ciated the fact that Casalis and others among its leading 
missionaries wrote their reports in straightforward language 
of a Christian character, rather than sugar-coated devo- 

But I learned, and very definitely, that orthodoxy played 
the same role in the committee of the Paris Society that it 
did in others when I offered it my services. M. Boegner, 
the kindly director of the mission, was greatly moved upon 
finding that someone had offered to join the Congo mission 
in answer to his appeal, but at once confided to me that 
serious objections would be raised by members of the com- 
mittee to my theological stance and that these would have 
to be removed first. My assurance that I wanted to come 
“merely as a doctor” lifted a heavy weight from his mind, 
but a little later he had to inform me that some members 
objected even to the acceptance of a mission doctor who 
subscribed only to proper Christian love, and did not, in 
their opinion, adhere to the correct Christian doctrine. 
However, we both resolved not to worry too much about 
the matter so far in advance, and thought the objectors still 
had some years during which they might arrive at a truly 
Christian understanding. 

No doubt the more liberal Allgemeine Evangelische Mis- 
sionsverein (General Union of Evangelical Missions) in 
Switzerland would have accepted me without hesitation 
either as missionary or doctor. But as I felt my call to 
equatorial Africa had come to me through the article in the 
Paris Missionary Society magazine, I felt I ought at least 
to try to join that mission’s activities in that colony. Further, 

I Resolve to Become a Jungle Doctor 95 

I was curious to see whether a missionary society could 
justifiably arrogate the right to refuse the services of a doc- 
tor to the suffering people in their district because in their 
opinion he was not sufficiently orthodox. 

But above and beyond all this, now that I was beginning 
my medical studies, my daily work and daily worries made 
such demands upon me that I had neither the time nor the 
strength to concern myself with what was to happen after- 

My Medical Studies, 


When I went to Professor Fehling, at 
that time dean of the department of 
medicine, to register as a student, he 
would have preferred to hand me over 
to his colleague in the psychiatric de- 

On one of the closing days of Oc- 
tober 1905, I set out in a thick fog to 
attend the first of a course of lectures 
on anatomy. 

But there was still a legal question 
to resolve: I could not teach at the uni- 
versity and at the same time be en- 
rolled as a student. Yet if I attended 
the medical courses only as an auditor. 

My Medical Studies, 1905-1912 97 

I could not according to government rules be allowed to 
sit for examinations. The governing body met the difficulty 
in a friendly spirit, and permitted me to sit for the exam- 
inations on the strength of the affidavits the medical pro- 
fessors would give me certifying that I had attended their 
lectures. On their side, the professors resolved that, being 
a colleague, I might attend all the lectures without paying 
the fees. 

My teachers in the five terms preceding the clinical were: 
Schwalbe, Weidenreich, and Fuchs in anatomy; Hofmeis- 
ter, Ewald, and Spiro in physiology; Thiele in chemistry; 
Braun and Cohn in physics; Goette in zoology; Graf Solms 
and Jost in botany. 

Now began years of continuous struggle with fatigue. I 
could not bring myself to give up either my teaching or my 
preaching. Thus, at the same time as I studied medicine, 
I was also delivering theological lectures and preaching 
almost every Sunday. My theology lectures were especially 
difficult at the beginning of my medical studies because I 
had begun to deal with the problems of the teaching of 


The organ, too, began to absorb me now more than ever. 
For Gustave Bret (the conductor of the Paris Bach Society, 
which had been founded in 1905 by him, Dukas, Faure, 
Widor, Guilmant, D’Indy, and myself) insisted on my un- 
dertaking the organ part in all the society’s concerts. For 
some years, therefore, each winter I had to make several 
journeys to Paris. Although I had only to attend the final 
practice and could travel back to Strasbourg during the 
night following each performance, every concert took at 
least three days of my time. Many a sermon for St. Nicholai 
did I sketch out on the train between Paris and Strasbourg! 


At Barcelona, too, I had to be at the organ for the Bach 
concerts at the Orfeo Catald. And in general I now played 
more frequently in concerts, not only because I had become 
known as an organist in recent years but also because the 
loss of my stipend as principal of the theological college 
compelled me to find some other source of income. 

The frequent journeys to Paris afforded me a welcome 
opportunity of meeting with friends whom I had made over 
the years in that city. Among those I knew best were the 
sensitive and musically gifted Frau Fanny Reinach, the wife 
of the well-known scholar Theodore Reinach, and Countess 
Melanie de Pourtal^s, the friend of the empress Eugenie, 
at whose side she figures in Winterhalter’s famous picture. 
At the country house of the countess near Strasbourg, I 
frequently saw her friend Princess Mettemich-Sandor, the 
wife of the Austrian ambassador to Paris in Napoleon Ill’s 
days. It was she whom Wagner in his day had to thank for 
getting his Tannhduser produced in the grand opera house 
at Paris. In the course of a conversation with Napoleon III 
during a ball, she procured the promise that he would give 
the order to include this opera in the list of works for 
performance. Under a somewhat pert exterior she con- 
cealed great intelligence and kindness of heart. I learned 
from her a good deal that was interesting about Wagner’s 
stay in Paris and about the people who formed Napoleon’s 
entourage. It was, however, not until I was in Africa and 
received her letters that the soul of this remarkable woman 
revealed itself to me. 

While in Paris I also saw a good deal of Mile Adele 
Herrenschmidt, an Alsatian teacher. 

I was attracted, at our first meeting, to Luis Millet, the 
conductor of the Orfeo Catald, a first-rate artist and a man 

My Medical Studies, 1905—1912 99 

of thought. Through him I met the famous Catalonian ar- 
chitect Gaudi, who was at that time still fully occupied with 
his work on the peculiar Church of the Sagrada Familia 
(Holy Family), of which only a mighty portal, crowned with 
towers, had then been completed. Like architects of the 
Middle Ages, Gaudi began his work aware that it would 
take generations to finish. I shall never forget how in the 
builder’s shed near the church, speaking as if he embodied 
the spirit of his countryman Ramon Lull, he introduced me 
to his mystical theory of proportions in architectural design 
that represent the Divine Trinity. “This cannot be ex- 
pressed,” he said, “in either French, German, or English, 
so I will explain it to you in Catalonian, and you will com- 
prehend it, although you do not know the language.” 

As I was looking at The Flight into Egypt, carved in stone 
at the entrance of the big portal, and wondering at the 
donkey creeping along so wearily under its burden, he said 
to me: “You know something about art, and you feel that 
the donkey here is not an invention. Not one of the figures 
you see here in stone is imaginary; they all stand here just 
as I have seen them in reality: Joseph, Mary, the infant 
Jesus, the priests in the Temple; I chose them all from 
people I have met, and carved them from plaster casts that 
I took at the time. With the donkey it was a difficult job. 
When it became known that I was looking for an ass for 
The Flight into Egypt, they brought me all the finest don- 
keys in Barcelona. But I could not use them. Mary, with 
the child Jesus, was not to be mounted on a fine strong 
animal, but on a poor, old, and weary one, and surely one 
that had something kindly in its face and understood what 
it was all about. Such was the donkey I was looking for, 
and I found it at last hitched to the cart of a woman who 


was selling scouring sand. Its drooping head almost touched 
the ground. With much trouble I persuaded its owner to 
bring it to me. And then, as I copied it bit by bit in plaster 
of Paris, she kept crying because she thought it would not 
escape with its life. That is the donkey of The Flight into 
Egypt, and it has made an impression on you because it is 
not imagined, but from real life.” 

During the first months of my medical course I wrote the 
essay on organ building and the last chapters of The Quest 
of the Historical Jesus. I resigned my post as director of 
the theological seminary, where I had lived since my stu- 
dent years. Leaving the big trees in the walled-in garden, 
trees with which I had conversed for so many years while 
I was working, was very hard. But to my great joy I found 
that I should be able, after all, to stay on in the big house 
belonging to the Chapter of St. Thomas. Friedrich Curtius, 
first district superintendent of Colmar and then chosen, at 
the request of the whole body of Alsatian clergy, to be 
president of the Lutheran Church of Alsace, had taken 
possession of a large official residence in the chapter’s big 
house. In it he offered me four small rooms in a top-floor 
apartment. Thus I was able to continue living under the 
shadow of St. Thomas. On the rainy Shrove Tuesday of 
1906 the students carried my belongings out through one 
door of the house on the St. Thomas embankment and 
brought them back in through another. 

With the Curtiuses I could come and go as if I were a 
member of the family, and that was most fortunate for me. 
Friedrich Curtius, who as we have said was a son of the 
well-known Greek scholar of Berlin, had married Countess 

My Medical Studies, 1905-1912 101 

Louisa von Erlach, the daughter of the governess of the 
Grand Duchess Louisa von Baden, who was a sister of the 
emperor Frederick. In this family, traditions of the aris- 
tocracy of learning were united with those of the aristocracy 
of birth. The spiritual center of the household was the aged 
Countess von Erlach — born Countess de May from the area 
of Neuchatel. Her health now prevented her from going 
out of doors, so in order to some extent to make up for her 
loss of concerts, which she felt very deeply for she was 
passionately fond of music, I used to play the piano to her 
for an hour every evening, and in that way I got to know 
her better; otherwise she scarcely saw anybody. This dis- 
tinguished noblewoman gradually acquired a great influ- 
ence over me, and I owe it to her that I have smoothed 
many rough edges off my personality. 

On May 3, 1910, a pilot named Wincziers quite unex- 
pectedly made the first flight over Strasbourg, from the 
parade grounds at Strasbourg-Neudorf. I happened to be 
in the countess’s room at the time, and led her — for she 
could no longer move about alone — to the window. When 
the airplane, which had flown quite low past the house, 
had disappeared in the distance, she said to me in French, 
“Combien curieuse est ma vie! J’ai discute les regies du 
participe passe avec Alexander von Humboldt, et void que 
je suis temoin de la conquete de l’air par les hommes!” 
(How amazing is my life! I have discussed the rules of the 
past participle with Alexander von Humboldt, and here I 
am witnessing the conquest of the air by humans!”) 

Her two unmarried daughters, Ada and Greda von Er- 
lach, who lived with her, had inherited from her a talent 
for painting, and while I was still director of the college I 
had given over to Ada, who was a pupil of Henner, a room 


with a northern exposure in my official residence to use as 
a studio. At her mother’s request, I also sat for her as a 
model, since it was hoped that taking up painting again 
would help her recover from a severe operation, which had 
brought her temporary relief from an incurable and painful 
disease. She completed this picture of me on my thirtieth 
birthday, without any suspicion of anything that was stirring 
in my mind during that last sitting. 

An uncle of the old Countess von Erlach had been for 
years an officer in the Dutch colonial service without suf- 
fering from fever, and he attributed this to his never having 
gone out of doors in the tropics bareheaded after sunset. I 
was made to promise that in her memory I would follow 
the same rule. So for her sake I now renounce the pleasure 
of letting the evening breeze play upon my head after a 
hot day on the Equator. Keeping my promise, however, 
has agreed with me. I have never had an attack of malaria, 
although of course the disease does not result from going 
out with an uncovered head in the tropics after sundown! 

It was only from the spring of 1906 onward, when I had 
finished The Quest of the Historical Jesus and had given 
up the directorship of the seminary, that I could give to 
my new course of study the time it required. But then I 
worked with great zeal at the natural sciences. Now at last 
I was able to devote myself to what had attracted me most 
when I was at the Gymnasium: I was at last in a position 
to acquire the knowledge I needed in order to feel on firm 
ground in philosophy! 

But the study of the natural sciences profited me even 
beyond the increase in knowledge I had longed for. It was 

My Medical Studies, 1905-1912 103 

an intellectual experience. All along I had felt it to be a 
danger that in the so-called humanities, with which I had 
hitherto been concerned, there is no truth that affirms itself 
as self-evident, but that a mere hypothesis can, by the way 
in which it is presented, be recognized as truth. The search 
for truth in the domain of the philosophy of history, for 
example, is an interminable sequence of duels between the 
sense of reality and creative power. Arguing from facts 
never wins a definitive victory against skillfully presented 
opinion. How often does what is perceived as progress 
consist in a skillfully formulated opinion that puts real in- 
sight out of action for a long time! 

Having to watch this drama go on and on and having to 
deal in such different ways with men who had lost all feeling 
for reality had depressed me. Now I was suddenly in an- 
other land. I dealt with truths that embodied realities based 
on facts, and found myself among men who took it as a 
matter of course that they had to provide evidence before 
they made a statement. It was an experience I felt was 
needed for my own intellectual development. 

Intoxicated as I was with the delight of dealing with 
realities that could be determined with exactitude, I was 
far from any inclination to undervalue the humanities, as 
others in a similar position often did. On the contrary. 
Through my study of chemistry, physics, zoology, botany, 
and physiology, I became aware more than ever of the 
extent to which truth in thought is justified and necessary, 
side by side with the truth that is established by facts. No 
doubt something subjective clings to the knowledge that 
results from the creative act of the mind. But at the same 
time such knowledge is on a higher plane than the knowl- 
edge based on facts alone. 


The knowledge that results from the observation of di- 
verse manifestations of being will always remain incomplete 
and unsatisfying because we cannot give a definite answer 
to the main question of what we are in the universe and to 
what purpose we exist in it. We can find our place in the 
existence that envelops us only if we experience in our in- 
dividual lives the universal life that wills and rules within 
it. I can understand the nature of the living being outside 
of myself only through the living being within me. It is to 
this reflective knowledge of the universal being and of the 
relation to it of the individual human being that the hu- 
manities are devoted. The conclusions at which they arrive 
are determined by the sense of reality within the creative 
mind. Knowledge of reality must pass through a phase of 
thinking about the nature of being. 

On May 13, 1908 — the rainy day on which the famous 
Hohkonigsburg in Lower Alsace was ceremonially opened 
after its restoration — I took the examination in anatomy, 
physiology, and the natural sciences that has to be passed 
in order to begin medical and clinical courses. The acqui- 
sition of the necessary knowledge had cost me consider- 
able effort. All my interest in the subject matter could 
not help me over the fact that the memory of a man over 
thirty no longer has the capacity of a twenty-year-old stu- 
dent’s. Moreover, I had stupidly gotten into my head the 
idea of studying pure sciences exclusively, instead of pre- 
paring for the examination. It was only in the last few weeks 
that I followed the recommendations of my fellow stu- 
dents to become a member of a Paukverband (cramming 
club), so that I could get to know what sort of questions, 

My Medical Studies, 1905—1912 105 

according to the records kept by the students, the pro- 
fessors usually asked, together with the answers they pre- 
ferred to hear. 

The examination went better than I expected, even 
though during those days I was going through the worst 
crisis of exhaustion that I can recall during the whole of my 

The terms of clinical study that followed proved far less 
of a strain than the earlier ones, because the various subjects 
were less diverse. 

My principal teachers were: Moritz, Arnold Cahn, and 
Erich Meyer for medicine; Madelung and Ledderhose for 
surgery; Fehling and Freund for gynecology; Wollenberg, 
Rosenfeld, and Pfersdorff for psychiatry; Forster and Levy 
for bacteriology; Chiari for pathological anatomy; and 
Schmiedeberg for pharmacology. 

I was especially interested in the lectures about drugs, 
where the practical instruction was given by Arnold Cahn, 
and the theoretical by Schmiedeberg, the well-known in- 
vestigator into the derivatives of digitalis. 

About Schmiedeberg and his friend Schwalbe, the ana- 
tomist, the following delightful story circulated at the uni- 
versity. Schwalbe was due to give a lecture on anthropology 
to the Adult Education Society of an Alsatian town and 
would of course have to mention the Darwinian theory. 
When he told Schmiedeberg of his fear that he might give 
offense, the latter replied: “Don’t spare them! Tell them 
all about Darwinism, only take care not to use the word 
‘monkey,’ and they’ll be quite satisfied both with Darwin 
and with you.” Schwalbe took the advice, and had the 
success that was promised. 

At that time people in Alsace were beginning to demand 


university extension courses to satisfy a population that was 
hungering for education, and one day Windelband, the 
professor of philosophy, announced to us in the common 
room with joyful astonishment that a deputation of work- 
ingmen had requested that he give some lectures on Hegel. 
He could hardly speak warmly enough of the way people 
without higher education, with their healthy feeling for 
what is really valuable, had awakened to the importance of 
Hegel. Later on, however, it came out that what they 
wanted to hear was something about Ernst Haeckel and 
the materialistic popular philosophy akin to socialism that 
was expounded in his book The Riddle of the Universe, 
which appeared in 1899. In their Alsatian pronunciation 
the ae had sounded like e, and the k like g! 

Years later I was able to render a service to Schmiede- 
berg, whom I greatly admired. In the spring of 1919 I 
happened to be passing the Strasbourg-Neudorf station, 
from which some Germans whom the French authorities 
had decided to expel were about to be transported, when 
I saw the dear old man standing among them. To my ques- 
tion as to whether I could help him to save his furniture, 
which like the rest he had been obliged to leave behind, 
he replied by showing me a parcel wrapped in newspaper, 
which he had under his arm. It was his last work on digi- 
talin. Since everything that these expelled people had on 
them or with them was strictly examined by French officials 
at the railway station, he was afraid that he might not be 
allowed to take with him the bulky parcel with his manu- 
script. I therefore took it from him and sent it later on, 
when a safe opportunity arose, to Baden-Baden, where he 
had found a refuge with friends. He died not long after his 
book appeared in print. 

At the beginning of my medical course I had to struggle 

My Medical Studies, 1905-1912 107 

with lack of money, but my position improved later on 
owing to the success of the German edition of my book on 
Bach and the concert fees I earned. 

In October 1910, I took the state medical examination. 
I had earned the fee for it the previous month at the French 
Music Festival at Munich by playing the organ part of Wi- 
dor’s recently completed Sinfonia Sacra, with him con- 
ducting the orchestra. On December 2, after my last 
examination, with Madelung, the surgeon, I strode out of 
the hospital into the darkness of the winter evening, unable 
to grasp the fact that the terrible strain of my medical 
studies was now behind me. Again and again I had to assure 
myself that I was really awake and not dreaming. Made- 
lung’s voice seemed to come from some distant sphere 
when he said more than once as we walked along together, 
“It is only because you have such excellent health that you 
have got through a job like that. ” 

Now I had to complete a year of practical work as an 
intern in the hospitals and to write my thesis for the doc- 
torate. As my subject I chose a critical review of all that 
had been published about the mental illness from which 
Jesus was supposed to have suffered. 

In the main I was concerned with the works of De Loos- 
ten, William Hirsch, and Binet-Sangle. In my studies on 
the life of Jesus I had documented that he lived in the world 
of contemporary Judaic thought, which seems fantastic to 
us now, with the expectation of the end of the world and 
the appearance of a supernatural Messianic Kingdom. I was 
immediately reproached for making Him a visionary, or 
even a person under the sway of delusions. Now my task 
was to decide whether, from a medical standpoint, this 
peculiar Messianic consciousness of His was in any way 
bound up with some psychic disturbance. 


De Loosten, William Hirsch, and Binet-Sangle had as- 
sumed some paranoiac mental disturbance in Jesus and had 
discovered in Him morbid ideas about His own greatness 
and His persecution. In order to deal with their really quite 
insignificant works, it was necessary to immerse myself in 
the boundless problem of paranoia. As a result a treatise 
of forty-six pages took over a year to write. More than once 
I was on the point of throwing it aside and choosing another 
subject for my dissertation. 

The result I had in mind was to demonstrate that the 
only psychiatric characteristics that could be considered 
historical, and about which there could be any serious dis- 
pute — Jesus’ high estimation of Himself and possible hal- 
lucinations at the time of His baptism — were far from 
sufficient to prove the presence of any mental disease. 

The expectation of the end of the world and the coming 
of the Messianic Kingdom has nothing in it in the nature 
of a delusion, for it belonged to a view of the world that 
was widely accepted by the Jews of that time and was 
contained in their religious literature. Even the idea held 
by Jesus that He was the One who would be manifested as 
the Messiah upon the appearance of the Messianic King- 
dom contains no trace of a morbid delusion of grandeur. If 
family tradition convinced Him that He was of the House 
of David, He may well have thought Himself justified in 
claiming for Himself one day the Messianic dignity prom- 
ised to a descendant of David in the writings of the proph- 
ets. If He chose to keep secret His certainty that He was 
the coming Messiah and nevertheless let a glimmer of the 
truth break through in His discourses, His action, viewed 
solely from the outside, is not unlike that of persons with 
a morbid delusion of grandeur. But in reality it is something 
quite different. Concealing His claim had in His case a 
natural and logical foundation. According to Jewish doctrine 
the Messiah would not step forth out of His concealment 

My Medical Studies, 1905—1912 109 

until the Messianic Kingdom had been revealed. Jesus 
therefore could not make Himself known to men as the 
coming Messiah. And if, on the other hand, an announce- 
ment of the coming of the Kingdom of God turns up in a 
number of His sayings, made with all the authority of Him 
who is to be its King, that, too, is thoroughly intelligible 
from a logical point of view. Jesus never behaved like a 
man lost in a world of illusions. He reacted in an absolutely 
normal fashion to what was said to Him, and to the events 
that concerned Him. He was never out of touch with reality. 

That these medical experts succeed in casting doubt on 
the medical soundness of Jesus, in the face of the simplest 
psychiatric considerations, is explicable only by their not 
being sufficiently familiar with the historical side of the 
question. Not only do they fail to use the late Jewish view 
of the world in explaining the world of ideas in which Jesus 
lived, but they also fail to distinguish the historical from 
the unhistorical statements that we have about Him. In- 
stead of keeping to what is recorded in the two oldest 
sources, Mark and Matthew, they bring together every- 
thing that is said in the four Gospels collectively, and then 
sit in judgment on a personality that is in reality fictitious 
and consequently can be viewed as abnormal. It is signif- 
icant that the chief arguments for the mental unsoundness 
of Jesus are drawn from the Gospel of John. 

In reality Jesus was convinced of His being the coming 
Messiah because, amid the religious ideas then prevalent, 
His powerful ethical personality could not have done oth- 
erwise than to arrive at an awareness of itself within the 
frame of this idea. By his spiritual nature He was in fact 
the ethical master promised by the prophets. 

Preparing for Africa 

While I was still working on the dis- 
sertation for my medical degree, I had 
already begun making preparations for 
my journey to Africa. In the spring of 
1912 I gave up teaching at the univer- 
sity and my post at St. Nicholai. The 
lecture courses I gave in the winter of 
1911-1912 dealt with attempts to rec- 
oncile a religious view of the world 
with the results of historical research 
on world religions and with the facts 
of natural science. 

My last sermon to the congregation 
of St. Nicholai used as its text Paul’s 
blessing in his Epistle to the Philip- 


Preparing for Africa 111 

pians: “The peace of God which passeth all understanding, 
shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus,” a text I 
used to close every service I had held all through the years. 

Not to preach anymore, not to lecture anymore, was a 
great sacrifice. Until I left for Africa I avoided going past 
either St. Nicholai or the university as much as I could, 
because I found too painful the very sight of the places 
where I had carried on work I could never resume. To this 
day I cannot bear to look at the windows that belong to the 
second classroom to the east of the entrance to the great 
university building, because it was there that I most often 

Finally, with my wife — Helene Bresslau, the daughter 
of the Strasbourg historian, whom I had married on June 
18, 1912 — I left my home on the St. Thomas embankment 
so that I might spend in my father’s parsonage at Giinsbach 
as much time in the last months as my travels allowed. My 
wife had already been a valuable collaborator in completing 
manuscripts and correcting proofs before our marriage, and 
she was again a great help with all the work dealing with 
my publications that had to be completed before we started 
for Africa. 

I had spent the spring of 1912 in Paris studying tropical 
medicine and making a start at purchasing the supplies that 
would be needed for Africa. Although I acquired a theo- 
retical knowledge of my subject at the beginning of my 
medical studies, it was now time to work at it from a prac- 
tical point of view. This, too, was a new experience. Until 
then I had engaged only in intellectual labor. Now I had 
to make lists of things to be ordered from catalogues, go 
shopping for days on end, stand about in the shops looking 
for what I wanted, check accounts and delivery notes, fill 


packing cases, prepare accurate lists for customs inspec- 
tions, and busy myself with other such tasks. 

How much time and trouble it cost me to get together 
the instruments, the drugs, the bandages, and all the other 
articles needed to equip a hospital, not to mention all the 
work we did together to prepare for housekeeping in the 
primeval forest! 

At first I regarded dealing with these things to be some- 
thing of a burden. By now, however, I have reached the 
point where I derive aesthetic pleasure from the careful 
preparation of a list of things to be ordered. The irritation 
I do feel again and again comes from the fact that so many 
catalogues, including those of pharmaceutical products, are 
arranged as inconsistently and inconveniently as if the firm 
in question had entrusted their compilation to its doorman’s 

To finance my undertaking, I began a round of soliciting 
visits among my acquaintances and experienced in fall mea- 
sure the difficulty of winning support for work that had not 
yet justified its existence with results. Most of my friends 
and acquaintances helped me over this embarrassment by 
offering help for my adventurous plan on the grounds that 
I was its author. But I must confess to having also had the 
experience of sensing the tone of my reception change 
markedly when it became apparent that I was there, not 
on a social call, but to raise money. Still, the kindness I 
encountered on these rounds outweighed a hundredfold 
the humiliations I had to accept. 

That the German professors at the University of Stras- 
bourg gave so liberally to an enterprise destined for a 

Preparing for Africa 113 

French colony moved me deeply. A considerable portion 
of the total I received came from members of my congre- 
gation at St. Nicholai. I was also supported by the Alsatian 
parishes, especially those whose pastors had been my fellow 
students or pupils. Money for the project to be established 
also flowed in from a benefit concert the Paris Bach Society 
gave in its behalf with its choir, supported by Maria Philippi 
and myself. A concert and a lecture in Le Havre — where 
I was known through my participation in a Bach concert— 
were also a great financial success. 

Thus the financial problem was solved for the present. I 
had money enough for all the purchases needed for the 
voyage and for running the hospital for about a year. Well- 
to-do friends had indicated, moreover, that they would help 
me again when I had exhausted my present resources. 

I was given valuable help in the management of financial 
and business matters by Mrs. Annie Fischer, the widow of 
a professor of surgery at the University of Strasbourg who 
had died young. Subsequently she took upon herself all the 
work that had to be done in Europe while I was in Africa. 
Later on, her son also became a doctor in the tropics. 

When I was certain I could collect sufficient funds to es- 
tablish a small hospital, I made a definite offer to the Paris 
Missionary Society to come at my own expense to serve its 
mission field on the river Ogowe from the centrally located 
station at Lambarene. 

The mission station at Lambarene was established in 1876 
by Dr. Nassau, an American missionary and medical man. 
The missionary work in the Ogowe district had been started 
by American missionaries who had come to the country in 


1874. Somewhat later the Gaboon became a French pos- 
session, and from 1892 onward the Paris Missionary Society 
replaced the American, since the Americans were not able 
to comply with the requirement of the French government 
that all instruction in schools be given in French. 

M. Boegner’s successor as superintendent of missions, 
M. Jean Bianquis, whose piety of deeds, rather than words, 
and able management of the society’s affairs won him many 
friends, maintained with all the weight of his authority that 
they must not lose this opportunity of obtaining, free of 
cost, the mission doctor for whom they had so ardently 
longed. But the strictly orthodox objected. It was resolved 
to invite me to appear before the committee so they could 
examine my beliefs. I could not agree to this, basing my 
refusal on the fact that Jesus, when He called His disciples, 
required from them nothing more than the will to follow 
Him. I also sent a message to the committee that, if the 
saying of Jesus, “He who is not against us is for us,” is a 
command to be followed, then a missionary society errs if 
it rejects even a Muslim who offers his services for the 
treatment of the suffering native people. Not long before 
this the society rejected a minister who wanted to come 
work for them, because his theological convictions did not 
allow him to answer the question, Did he regard the fourth 
Gospel as the work of the Apostle John? with an unqualified 

To avoid a similar fate I declined to appear before the 
assembled committee and allow them to put theological 
questions to me. As an alternative, I offered to visit each 
member of the committee personally, so that conversation 
might allow each to judge clearly whether accepting me 
would really pose such a terrible threat to the souls of the 

Preparing for Africa 115 

Africans and to the society’s reputation. My proposal was 
accepted, and it cost me several afternoons. A few of the 
members gave me a chilly reception. The majority assured 
me that my theological point of view made them hesitate 
chiefly for two reasons: I might be tempted to confuse the 
missionaries out there with my learning, and I might wish 
to be active again as a preacher. My assurances that I only 
wanted to be a doctor, and that on every other topic I would 
be muet comme une carpe (dumb as a carp), allayed their 
fears, and these visits actually helped establish quite cordial 
relations with a number of the committee members. 

In the end my offer was accepted on the understanding 
that I would avoid everything that could cause offense to 
the missionaries and to the faith of their converts. One 
member of the committee did, however, send in his res- 

One more thing now remained to be done, namely, I 
still had to secure permission to practice as a doctor in the 
Gaboon from the Colonial Department, because I only had 
a German diploma. With the help of influential acquain- 
tances this last obstacle was removed. Finally the road was 

In February 1913, the seventy packing cases were closed 
and sent in advance to Bordeaux by freight train. While we 
were packing our hand luggage, my wife began to object 
to my insistence that we take with us two thousand marks 
in gold instead of in notes. I replied that we must reckon 
on the possibility of war, and that if war broke out gold 
would retain its value in every country in the world, 
whereas the fate of paper money was uncertain and bank 
credits might be frozen. 

I took into consideration the danger of war because I had 


learned from acquaintances in Paris who had friends at the 
Russian embassy that war might break out as soon as Russia 
had completed the strategic railways she was building in 

I was quite convinced, indeed, that neither the French 
people nor the Germans wanted war and that the parlia- 
mentary leaders of both nations were eager for opportun- 
ities to get together and give expression to their ideas. As 
someone who had been working for years to bring about 
an understanding between Germany and France, I knew 
how much was being done at that very time to preserve 
the peace, and I had some hope of success. On the other 
hand, I never shut my eyes to the fact that the fate of Europe 
did not depend upon Franco-German relations alone. 

It seemed to me an ominous sign that in Germany, as in 
France, gold was being withdrawn from circulation when- 
ever possible and replaced by paper money. Beginning in 
1911 civil servants in both countries scarcely ever received 
gold when they were paid their salaries. Until that time 
German officials had been allowed to choose whether their 
salary would be paid in gold or in paper. 

Literary Studies 
During My Medical 

In the last two years of my medical 
studies and during the time I spent as 
a hospital intern, by severely limiting 
my night’s rest I managed to complete 
a work on the history of research on 
the Apostle Paul and to revise and en- 
large The Quest of the Historical Jesus 
for a second edition. In addition Widor 
and I worked on an edition of Bach’s 
preludes and fugues for the organ, with 
directions for the interpretation of 
each piece. 

Immediately after completing The 
Quest of the Historical Jesus I began 
to study the teachings of Paul. From 



the very beginning I had been dissatisfied with explanations 
in scholarly theology because they represented Paul’s 
thought as complicated, contradictory, and incompatible 
with his originality and greatness. From the time I realized 
that the preaching of Jesus had been entirely determined 
by the expectation of the imminent end of the world and 
of the advent of the supernatural Kingdom of God, I began 
to question this view. 

Now I had to ask myself the question that previous re- 
search had not: Was Paul’s thought also rooted in escha- 
tology? I quickly came to the conclusion that it was. In 
1906 I had already lectured on the eschatological concepts 
that serve as a basis for the strange Pauline doctrine of our 
being united with Christ and of death and resurrection with 

In this inquiry I wanted to familiarize myself with all the 
attempts that had thus far been made to find a historical 
explanation for the Pauline doctrine. I hoped to show 
clearly how the whole complex of questions had gradually 
evolved. I proceeded in the same way with my investiga- 
tion into Paul’s teachings as I had with my studies of the 
Last Supper and for The Quest of the Historical Jesus. 
Instead of contenting myself with simply providing a so- 
lution, I took it upon myself to investigate and write the 
history of the problem. That I thrice attempted to pur- 
sue this laborious detour is the fault of Aristotle. How 
often have I cursed the hour when I first read the section 
of his Metaphysics where he explores the problem of phi- 
losophy through a criticism of earlier philosophizing! These 
pages awakened in me something that had been long 
dormant. Since then I have experienced over and over 
again that compulsion to grasp the nature of a problem not 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 119 

only as it now stands but by tracing its evolution through 

Whether the amount of labor justifies the effort I have put 
into it, I do not know. I am certain only of one thing: I 
had no choice but to proceed in this Aristotelian fashion, and 
it brought me intellectual satisfaction and aesthetic pleasure. 

I was particularly attracted to the history of critical stud- 
ies of Pauline teaching because investigation of it was a task 
no one had yet undertaken, and the University of Stras- 
bourg had special resources available, for it contained al- 
most as many books on Paul as on the life of Jesus. In 
addition, the head librarian, Dr. Schorbach, helped me 
find all the books as well as journal articles on the subject. 

Originally I believed that this literary-historical study 
could briefly be treated as a chapter introducing an expo- 
sition of the eschatological significance of Paul’s thought, 
but as I worked along, it became clear that it would develop 
into an entire book. 

Scholarly investigation of Paul’s thought begins with Hugo 
Grotius. In his Annotationes in Novum Testamentum, 
which appeared around the middle of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, he states the self-evident principle that in order to 
understand the Epistles of Paul, we must know the proper 
meaning of their words. In the past, both Catholic and 
Protestant theologians interpreted Paul in accordance with 
the doctrine of justification by faith. 

The idea that the passages about his being in Christ and 
having died and risen with Him pose important problems 
had never entered the minds of the representatives of the 
new historical criticism. For them it was most important 
to show that Paul’s teaching was not dogmatic, but “con- 
forms to reason. ” 


The first achievement of Pauline research was to establish 
the differences in thought that distinguish individual Epis- 
tles from each other. This led to the conclusion that some 
of the Epistles could not be accepted as authentic. 

In 1807 Schleiermacher expressed his doubts about the 
genuineness of the First Epistle to Timothy. Seven years 
later Johann Gottfried Eichom proved with convincing ar- 
guments that neither the Epistles to Timothy nor that to 
Titus could have come from Paul’s own hand. Then Fer- 
dinand Christian Baur of Tubingen University went further 
still in his Paulus der Apostel Jesu Christi ( Paul the Apostle 
of Jesus Christ ), which appeared in 1845. He recognized 
only the two Epistles to the Corinthians and those to the 
Romans and the Galatians as indisputably genuine. Except 
for these, all the others appeared to him to be more or less 

Later research has modified the severity of this judg- 
ment, though it is in principle correct. It has revealed that 
the Epistles to the Philippians, to Philemon, and the First 
Epistle to the Thessalonians are also authentic. Thus the 
majority of the Epistles bearing Paul’s name can be attrib- 
uted to him. Contemporary historical criticism considers 
the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, that to Titus, and 
the two to Timothy as definitely apocryphal. About the 
Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians a definitive 
judgment is not yet possible. They contain thoughts that 
are closely allied with those of the genuine Epistles but 
differ markedly from them in detail. 

Baur found a criterion for distinguishing the genuine 
from the nongenuine in the contrast he discovered between 
the belief Paul held about Christ and that held by the 
Apostles at Jerusalem. He was the first bold enough to state 
that the Epistle to the Galatians is a polemical treatise 
directed against the Apostles at Jerusalem. He was also the 
first to recognize that the difference of opinion concerning 
the authority of the Law in Christianity arises from the 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 121 

varying significance given to the death of Jesus. When this 
contrast became clear, Baur could conclude that the Epis- 
tles in which the death of Jesus brings about a change in 
this world came from Paul himself. The others were written 
by disciples who wanted to attribute the later reconciliation 
between the two parties to Paul’s own time. 

By distinguishing between the Pauline Epistles, Baur 
was the first to pose the question concerning the formation 
of Christian dogma. He correctly saw that the rapid dif- 
fusion of Paul’s ideas can be attributed to his belief that the 
death of Christ signified the end of the Law. In the course 
of one or two generations this concept became the common 
property of the Christian faith, although it stood in contra- 
diction to the traditional teaching represented by the Apos- 
tles at Jerusalem. 

By recognizing that the problem of Pauline teaching 
forms the core of the problem of the origins of Christian 
dogma, Baur initiated a flood of historical research into the 
beginnings of Christianity. Before his time it had made no 
progress because its task had not been properly formulated. 

Edouard Reuss, Otto Pfleiderer, Karl Holsten, Ernest 
Renan, H. J. Holtzmann, Karl von Weizsacker, Adolf von 
Hamack, and others who continued the work of Baur in 
the second half of the nineteenth century studied the var- 
ious elements of Pauline teaching with great care. They all 
agree that, in addition to the doctrine of redemption 
through sacrifice, there is in Paul’s thought another doc- 
trine of an entirely different character. According to this 
doctrine, believers themselves experience in a mysterious 
way the death and resurrection of Jesus and thereby be- 
come new beings, ruled by the power of the spirit of Jesus. 
The fundamental thoughts of this mystical-ethical doctrine 
are expressed for the first time in Herrmann Liidemann’s 
Anthropology of St. Paul, published in 1872. 

To resolve the Pauline problem one must explain why 
Paul claims that the Law is no longer valid for Christians, 


and why along with the doctrine of redemption by faith 
in the atoning death of Jesus, which he holds in common 
with the Apostles in Jerusalem, Paul professes belief in a 
mystical union with Christ, through whom we die and rise 

Historical criticism at the end of the nineteenth and the 
beginning of the twentieth century thought that it could 
explain Paul’s views as having advanced beyond those of 
primitive Christianity because of his background. Bom and 
educated in Tarsus in Asia Minor, where society was en- 
tirely under the influence of Greek language and civiliza- 
tion, he combined Hellenistic and Jewish thought. As a 
result of this combination, he became an opponent of the 
Law. He also tried to prove that redemption through the 
death of Jesus is not only based on the Jewish concept of 
sacrifice but can be understood as a mystical participation 
in this death. 

This solution to the problem seems the most obvious and 
natural in view of the fact that mystical thought is unknown 
to Judaism, but quite common in the Greek world. The 
hypothesis that the Pauline doctrine of redemption is es- 
sentially Greek has been reinforced by abundant docu- 
mentation since the beginning of the twentieth century. 
Hermann Usener, E. Rhode, Frangois Cumont, Hugo 
Hepding, Richard Reitzenstein, and others examined 
Greek literature and newly discovered inscriptions from 
the first centuries a.d. that until then had been only su- 
perficially examined. These new sources revealed the role 
sacramental rites played in religious life at the beginning 
of Greco-Oriental decadence. The hypothesis that the mys- 
ticism of Paul is somehow determined by Greek religiosity 
seems best explained by the fact that in Paul’s view the 
believer actually participates in the death and resurrection 
of Jesus through baptism and the Lord’s Supper. They were 
not merely symbols as people at the end of the nineteenth 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 123 

century had thought before it was realized that Paul really 
thought along sacramental lines. 

Since Judaism was as little familiar with sacraments as it 
was with mysticism, it was thought necessary to establish 
a link between Paul and Greek religiosity to account for his 
view of baptism and the Last Supper. Much as this hy- 
pothesis has in its favor at first glance, it is insufficient as 
an explanation for the mysticism of Paul concerning our 
union with Christ. As soon as the assumption is examined 
in detail it becomes evident that the ideas of Paul are quite 
different in character from those of the Greco-Oriental mys- 
tery religions. Essentially they are not even related, though 
there is a remarkable resemblance between them. 

If Paul’s doctrine of mystical redemption and his sacra- 
mental views cannot be explained as stemming from Hel- 
lenistic ideas, the only other possible course is to view them 
in the context of the late Jewish view of the end of the 
world, i.e., of eschatology. This course is followed by Rich- 
ard Kabisch, in The Eschatology of St. Paul in Its Connec- 
tion with the Whole Idea of Paulinism (1893), and by 
William Wrede, in his St. Paul (1904), which unfortunately 
remained a preliminary sketch. Neither of them was able 
to give a complete explication of Paul’s system of thought, 
but they did provide the most convincing evidence that 
within the framework of eschatology many Pauline concepts 
that seemed disjointed not only were in fact simple and 
viable but constituted an entirely coherent system in their 
relation to one another. 

These investigations, conducted outside of contemporary 
criticism, did not attract attention because the theory that 
Paul combined Greek and Jewish thought seemed evident 
to theologians and other scholars of Hellenism in the first 
centuries a.d. They failed to see the danger to which they 
exposed the unfortunate Apostle by their assertion that the 
essential ideas of the Epistles that bear his name appear to 


be like those of the Greco-Oriental religions of the second 
and third centuries a.d. ! The inevitable question also arises 
as to whether these letters really belong to the fifties and 
sixties of the first Christian century, or whether they orig- 
inated in a later period and were only attributed to the rabbi 
Paul of primitive Christianity through a literary fiction. 

In the second half of the nineteenth century Bruno Bauer 
and certain adherents of the so-called radical Dutch 
school — A. D. Loman, Rudolph Steck, W. C. van Manen, 
and others — proclaimed that the Greek ideas in the letters 
bearing Paul’s name are much easier to explain if it is rec- 
ognized that the writings are actually of Greek origin, rather 
than assuming that a rabbi gave a new Greek character to 
primitive Christian beliefs immediately after the death of 
Jesus. They assert that the struggle against the Law cannot 
have been undertaken by the rabbi Paul. 

The demand for freedom from the Law must first have 
been expressed when the Greeks became the dominant 
influence in the Christian communities and rebelled against 
a Christianity that had been shaped by Judaism. The strug- 
gle over the Law, therefore, must have been fought, not 
in the middle of the first century between Paul and the 
Apostles in Jerusalem, but two or three generations later 
between the two parties that had come into existence in 
the intervening period. To legitimize their victory the in- 
dependents supposedly attributed the Epistles to Paul and 
published them under his name. This paradoxical theory 
of the origin of the Pauline letters cannot, of course, be 
historically proved. It does, however, reveal quite strik- 
ingly the difficulties in which research finds itself when it 
assumes the existence of Greek thought in Paul’s work. 

To conclude the history of critical research into Paul’s 
thought, I felt obliged, in 1911, to explain that the idea 
that the Apostle’s mystical redemption was not Jewish but 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 125 

Hellenistic could not be sustained. The only plausible ex- 
planation could be found in eschatology. 

When these introductory investigations appeared in print 
my full exposition of the eschatological origin of Paul’s 
thought was so near completion that I could have given it 
to the publisher within a few weeks. But these weeks were 
not at my disposal, since I had to begin to study for the 
state medical examination. Later on, so much of my time 
was taken up by my doctoral dissertation and the revision 
of The Quest of the Historical Jesus that I had to give up 
all hope of publishing the second part of my work on Paul 
before my departure for Africa. 

In the autumn of 1912, when I was already busy shopping 
and packing for Lambarene, I undertook to integrate into 
The Quest of the Historical Jesus material from the new 
books that had in the meantime appeared on the subject 
and to rewrite sections that no longer satisfied me. I es- 
pecially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more 
thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, 
William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur 
Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence 
of Jesus. 

It is not difficult to pretend that Jesus never lived. The 
attempt to prove it, however, invariably produces the op- 
posite conclusion. In the Jewish literature of the first cen- 
tury the existence of Jesus is not attested to with any 
certainty, and in the Greek and Latin literature of the same 
period there is no evidence for it at all. Of the two passages 
in his Antiquities in which the Jewish writer Josephus 
makes incidental mention of Jesus, one was undoubtedly 


interpolated by Christian copyists. The first pagan witness 
to His existence is Tacitus, who, during the reign of Trajan 
in the second decade of the second century a.d., reports 
in his Annals (XV. 44) that the founder of the “Christian” 
sect (which Nero accused of causing the great fire at Rome) 
was executed under the government of Tiberius by the 
procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. 

Since Roman history mentions the existence of Jesus only 
as the reason for the persistence of the Christian movement, 
and this for the first time about eighty years after the death 
of Jesus, and since some critics accept the thesis that neither 
the Gospels nor the Epistles are authentic, anyone can 
consider himself justified in refusing to recognize the his- 
torical existence of Jesus. 

But that does not settle the matter. It still has to be 
explained when, where, and how Christianity originated 
without either Jesus or Paul; how it later on came to trace 
its origins back to these mythical personalities; and finally 
for what curious reasons they, both Jewish, were designated 
as the founders of Christianity. 

To prove that the Gospels and Epistles are not genuine 
one has to explain how they were written without being 
authentic. The champions of the thesis that Jesus is not a 
historical person give no account of the difficulty their view 
presents; they treat the matter too casually. Though they 
differ considerably from each other in details, the method 
they all apply involves attempts to prove that in pre-Chris- 
tian times, in Palestine or elsewhere in the East, a Christ 
cult or Jesus cult of a Gnostic character already existed, 
which, as in the cults of Adonis, Osiris, and Tammuz, cen- 
tered on a god or demigod who dies and rises again. 

Since any proof of such a pre-Christian Christ cult is 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 127 

lacking, its existence must be made to appear probable by 
a combination of inventions. Through further acts of in- 
vention and imagination it is then shown that the adherents 
of this assumed pre-Christian Christ cult at some point had 
reason to change the god who dies and rises again into a 
historical human personality. 

As if this were not difficult enough, the Gospels and the 
Pauline Epistles require an explanation as to why their 
Christ cult, instead of having originated in a past age of 
unverifiable events, happened to date its imaginary Jesus 
scarcely two or three generations back and had him enter 
history as a Jew among Jews. 

Finally, their most arduous task consists in explaining 
how the content of the Gospels turned from myth into 
history. If they keep to their theory, Drews, Smith, and 
Robertson must maintain that the events and the words 
reported by Matthew and Mark are only the ideas professed 
by earlier mystery religions. The fact that Arthur Drews 
and others refer not only to every myth they can find but 
also to astronomy and astrology in order to justify this ex- 
planation shows the strain they put on our imagination. 

It is clear, then, from the writings of those who dispute 
the historicity of Jesus, that the hypothesis of His existence 
is a thousand times easier to prove than that of His nonex- 
istence. But that does not mean that this hopeless under- 
taking has been abandoned. Again and again books about 
the nonexistence of Jesus appear and find credulous read- 
ers, although they contain nothing new beyond what Rob- 
ertson, Smith, Drews, and the other supporters of this 
thesis have said. The supporters of this thesis have to be 
satisfied with passing off old arguments as new. 

As far as these attempts aspire to serve the cause of 


historical truth, they can claim that the rapid acceptance 
throughout the Greek world of a doctrine that had its roots 
in Judaism (as recorded in the traditional history of the 
beginnings of Christianity) is difficult to explain and that 
therefore the hypothesis of the derivation of Christianity 
from Greek thought merits further attention. 

But this hypothesis cannot be sustained. It breaks down 
because nothing about the person of Jesus in the first two 
Gospels could possibly be explained as originating in myth. 
In addition, the eschatology of Jesus has a peculiar character 
that a later period could not have attributed to a person of 
its own invention; the good reason is that the generation 
that preceded the destruction of the Temple by Titus did 
not know enough about Jewish eschatology, and the con- 
temporaries of Jesus did. What interest could this so-called 
mystery cult of Christ have in attributing to this pseudo- 
historical Jesus whom it invented the belief — not confirmed 
by fact — in the imminent end of the world and the coming 
of the Messiah, the Son of Man? 

By his eschatology Jesus is so completely and firmly 
rooted in the period in which the two oldest Gospels place 
Him that He can only be represented as a personality that 
really appeared in that period. It is significant that those 
who dispute the historical existence of Jesus prudently 
avoid examining his thought and action as determined by 

A request from Widor had me occupied again with Bach 
before I left for Africa. The New York publisher Mr. 
G. Schirmer had asked him to prepare an edition of Bach’s 
organ works with some notes on their interpretation. Widor 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 129 

agreed on the condition that I would collaborate. So we 
divided the task: I was to prepare the rough drafts on which 
we would then work together. How many times in 1911 
and 1912 did I travel to Paris to devote myself to our work! 
Widor twice spent several days with me in Giinsbach that 
we might concentrate on this task in undisturbed quiet. 

Although as a matter of principle we both disapproved 
of so-called practical editions, which prescribe rules to the 
player, we nevertheless believed that for Bach’s organ 
music some advice was justifiable. With few exceptions, 
Bach gave no directions in his organ compositions for reg- 
istration or change of manuals. It was unnecessary for the 
organists of his day. The pieces were rendered as Bach had 
intended as a result of the way the organs were constructed 
and customarily played. 

Soon after Bach’s death his organ compositions, which 
he had never published, were practically forgotten for a 
long time. When, thanks to the Peters edition, they were 
rediscovered in the middle of the nineteenth century, mus- 
ical taste and organs had both changed. The eighteenth- 
century tradition was known, but its style of rendering 
Bach’s organ works in that way was rejected as too simple 
and too plain. It was believed that one was acting in his 
spirit if one used the constant changes in volume and char- 
acter of sound made possible by the contemporary organ. 
As a result, toward the end of the nineteenth century mod- 
em organ playing had so completely supplanted the earlier 
method that it never received any attention, if indeed any- 
one still knew what it had been. 

France was an exception. Widor, Guilmant, and the rest 
held firmly to the old German tradition, which had been 
transmitted to them by the well-known organist Adolph 


Friedrich Hesse (1802-1863) of Breslau. The reason was 
that until about the middle of the nineteenth century, there 
was in fact no art of organ playing in France, because the 
organs that had been destroyed during the Revolution had 
for the most part been only poorly restored. Until Cavaille- 
Col and others began to build their fine instruments and 
the German Peters edition enabled organists to acquire 
Bach’s organ compositions, they did not know — so Widor 
often told me — how to play something so completely un- 
known in France. They were unfamiliar with the music and 
had to learn an entirely new pedal technique. It was Lem- 
mens, the well-known organist in Brussels, to whom they 
went, and Cavaille-Col paid the expenses for those who 
could not have afforded to go on their own. Lemmens had 
been a pupil of Adolph Friedrich Hesse, the organist in 
Breslau, Germany, who had studied in the tradition of Bach 
with his teacher, Kittel. 

At the inauguration of the newly built organ at St. Eu- 
stache’s in 1844, thanks to Hesse the Parisians heard Bach’s 
organ music for the first time. In the years that followed, 
Hesse was often invited to France that he might be heard 
at the inauguration of other organs. His playing at the Uni- 
versal Exposition in London in 1854 did much to make 
Bach’s music known in England. 

If the French organists clung to the German tradition 
transmitted by Hesse and Lemmens, it was a matter not 
only of taste but of technical exigency. The organs built by 
Cavaille-Col were not modem organs. They did not have 
the mechanical means that made possible the variety in 
registration of the German nineteenth-century organs. The 
French organists were forced to play in the classical tra- 
dition. This, however, was no drawback, because the won- 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 131 

derful sonority of their organs allowed the Bach fugues to 
achieve the full effect of the organs of Bach’s own day, 
without resorting to special changes in registration. 

Thus by a historical paradox the principles of the old 
German tradition were preserved for the present age by 
Parisian organists. This tradition also became known in de- 
tail when by degrees musicians again began to consult the 
theoretical works of the eighteenth century. 

For anyone who looked, as I did, for every possible op- 
portunity to play Bach on instruments of his own time, 
these organs were the true masters of the faithful inter- 
pretation of Bach’s music. They demonstrated what was 
technically possible, as well as the musical effects that could 
be achieved. 

For the new edition we were preparing, Widor and I 
thought that our task consisted in explaining to organists 
who only knew modem organs and were ignorant of Bach’s 
style what registration and what changes of keyboard Bach 
had to use. In addition, we wanted to consider to what 
extent the original style could be retained by using the 
sound and the tone colors of the modem organ. 

We thought tact demanded that we not insert our own 
directions or suggestions in the musical score itself. We 
decided instead to include our comments in short articles 
as introductions to the individual pieces. The organist may 
then read our suggestions but play Bach without any ci- 
cerone. We did not even include fingering or phrasing. 

Bach’s fingering differs from ours in that he crosses any 
finger over another, following an older fashion, and there- 
fore uses the thumb less frequently. In pedaling Bach could 
not use the heel because the pedals of his day were short 
and he had to use the toe of the foot. The shortness of the 


pedals also made it difficult to pass one foot over the other. 
He was therefore often obliged to let his foot glide from 
one pedal to the next, whereas we can manage a better 
legato than was possible for him by moving one foot over 
the other, or by using toe and heel alternately. 

When I was young I still found the short pedal of the 
Bach period on many old village organs. Even today in 
Holland many pedals are so short that it is impossible to 
use the heel. 

Widor and I put our remarks concerning matters of phras- 
ing into the introduction because I am always irritated when 
I encounter the fingering and the phrasing of some editor 
or other. I insisted on the principle, which, it is to be hoped, 
will someday be universally accepted, that the player must 
have before his eyes the music of Bach or Mozart or Bee- 
thoven as it was written by the composer himself. 

A few concessions to modern taste and to modern organs 
had to be made because Bach’s music, as he had conceived 
it, cannot be played on our modern instruments. On the 
instruments of his day the forte and the fortissimo were 
relatively soft, so a piece could be played entirely in for- 
tissimo, and the listener still did not tire or feel any need 
of change. Similarly, Bach could impose on his hearers a 
continual forte with his orchestra. On modern organs, the 
fortissimo is usually so loud and so harsh that the listener 
cannot endure it for more than a few moments. Further- 
more, he is not able to follow the individual lines of melody, 
amid all the roar, and this is essential for understanding a 
Bach composition. We are therefore obliged to play some 
passages with varying color and intensity that Bach would 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 133 

have played entirely in forte or fortissimo if the listener is 
to enjoy the music. 

Nothing can be said against variations in intensity that 
Bach could not achieve on the organs of his time as long 
as the architecture of the piece remains clearly perceptible 
and if it does not seem restless. Where Bach was satisfied 
to carry a fugue through with three or four degrees of 
tonality, we can allow ourselves six or eight. The supreme 
rule for the execution of Bach’s organ works is that the 
design must be clear; the tone color is less important. 

The organist must always remind himself that the listener 
can only perceive the design of the composition when the 
lines of melody are perfectly distinct. That is why Widor 
and I emphasize again and again that the performer must 
be clear about the phrasing of the various themes and mo- 
tifs of the pieces and bring out all details with the same 

One cannot be reminded too often that on the organs of 
the eighteenth century it was not possible to play as rap- 
idly as one might have wished. The keys were so stiff and 
had to be depressed so hard that a good moderato was in 
itself something of an achievement. Because Bach must 
have conceived his preludes and fugues in the moderate 
tempo in which they could be played on his own organs, 
we too must hold fast to this fact and perform them in an 
authentic and appropriate tempo. 

It is well known that Hesse, in accordance with the Bach 
tradition that had come down to him, used to play the or gan 
compositions in a calm rhythm. If the wonderful vigor of 
the Bach line of melody is properly brought out by perfect 


phrasing, the listener does not perceive it as slow, even if 
it does not go beyond the speed of a moderato. 

Since it is impossible to accent individual notes on the 
organ, the phrasing must be worked out without any sup- 
port from that kind of accentuation. A plastic rendering of 
Bach on the organ therefore means giving listeners the 
illusion of accents through perfect phrasing. It is because 
this is not yet recognized as the first requirement for all 
organ playing and the playing of Bach in particular that one 
so seldom hears Bach’s compositions rendered satisfactor- 
ily. And how perfectly lucid must the playing be when it 
has to triumph over the acoustical hazards of a large church! 

For those who were acquainted solely with the modern 
organ, Widor and I therefore proposed an appropriate ren- 
dering of Bach’s organ compositions that would be new to 
them and in contrast to the modern, showy style with which 
they were familiar. We pointed out again and again how 
difficult it was to play Bach on the modern organ. We 
expected that the demands the works of Bach make on the 
organ would do more to popularize the ideal of the real, 
fine-toned organ than any number of essays on organ build- 
ing and the techniques required for the performance of 
Bach. We have not been disappointed. 

We could only complete the first five volumes of the new 
edition containing the sonatas, the concertos, the preludes, 
and the fugues before my departure for Africa. We intended 
to complete the three volumes containing the choral pre- 
ludes during my first leave in Europe, based on drafts I 
would make in Africa. 

Literary Studies During My Medical Course 135 

At the publisher’s request our work was published in 
three languages. The differences between the French text, 
on the one hand, and the German together with the En- 
glish, which is based on it, on the other, reflect the differ- 
ences of our conventions. Widor and I agreed that in the 
French edition, his advice, which corresponded to the char- 
acteristics of the French organs, should prevail, while in 
the German and the English, mine should dominate as they 
reflected the character of the modern organ predominant 
in those countries. 

Soon afterward World War I broke out and communi- 
cation among publishers of different nations was inter- 
rupted. For this reason the edition was published in New 
York and is primarily distributed in English-speaking coun- 
tries. In France and Germany the price is prohibitive. 

First Activities in 
Africa, 1913-1917 

On the afternoon of Good Friday, 
1913, my wife and I left Giinsbach; on 
the evening of March 26 we embarked 
at Bordeaux. At Lambarene the mis- 
sionaries gave us a very hearty wel- 

Unfortunately, they had not been 
able to erect the little buildings of cor- 
rugated iron in which I was to begin 
my medical practice, for they had not 
secured the necessary laborers. The 
trade in okoume wood, which was just 
beginning to flourish in the Ogowe dis- 
trict, offered any able African better- 
paid work than he could find on the 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 137 

mission station. So at first I had to use an old chicken coop 
near our living quarters as my consulting room. 

By late autumn I was able to move to a corrugated-iron 
building twenty-six feet long and thirteen feet wide, with 
a roof of palm leaves, down by the river. It contained a 
small consulting room, an operating room of similar pro- 
portions, and a still-smaller dispensary. Around this build- 
ing a number of large bamboo huts were gradually 
constructed for the African patients. The white patients 
found quarters in the mission house and in the doctor s 
little bungalow. 

From the very first days, even before I had found time 
to unpack my drugs and instruments, I was besieged by 
sick people. The choice of Lambarene as the site of the 
hospital was based on its geographic location and on the 
information given us by Mr. Morel, the missionary, a native 
of Alsace. It proved to be the right decision in every re- 
spect. From a distance of one to two hundred miles, up- 
stream or downstream, the sick could be brought to me in 
canoes along the Ogowe and its tributaries. 

The chief diseases I had to deal with were malaria, lep- 
rosy, sleeping sickness, dysentery, frambesia, and phage- 
denic ulcers, but I was surprised by the number of cases 
of pneumonia and heart disease I discovered. There were 
also many with urinary tract diseases. Surgical treatment 
was called for chiefly in cases of hernia and elephantiasis 
tumors. Hernia is much more common among the native 
people in equatorial Africa than among white people. If 
there is no doctor in the region, every year many of the 
poor people are condemned to a painful death from stran- 
gulated hernia, from which a timely operation could have 
saved them. My first surgical case was of that nature. 


Thus during the very first weeks I realized that the phys- 
ical misery among the Africans was not less but much 
greater than I had expected. How glad I was that in defiance 
of all objections, I had carried out my plan of going there 
as a doctor! 

Great was the joy of Dr. Nassau, the aged founder of the 
mission station at Lambarene, when I wrote to him in 
America that the station once more had the services of a 

An initial handicap in my work consisted in the difficulty 
of finding Africans who could serve as interpreters and 
helpers at the infirmary. The first who proved himself ca- 
pable of assisting was a former cook by the name of Joseph 
Azoawani. He stayed with me, though I could not pay him 
as much as he had earned in his former job. He gave me 
some valuable hints about how to deal with the Africans, 
though I was unable to agree with the one he thought most 
important. He advised me to reject patients whose lives, 
so far as we could see, could not be saved. Again and again 
he held up to me the example of the fetishistic doctors who 
would have nothing to do with such cases so as to endanger 
as little as possible their reputation as healers. 

But on one point I later had to admit that he was right. 
When dealing with Africans, one must never hold out hope 
of recovery to the patient and his relatives if the case is 
really hopeless. If death occurs without warning, they con- 
clude that the doctor did not know that the disease would 
have this outcome because he had not diagnosed it cor- 
rectly. One must tell the truth to African patients without 
reservation. They wish to know it, and they can bear it. 
Death for them is something natural. They are not afraid 
of it, but, on the contrary, face it calmly. If, against all 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 139 

expectations, the patient recovers, the doctor’s reputation 
increases immensely. He is seen as one who can cure even 
fatal diseases. 

My wife, who had been trained as a nurse, gave me 
invaluable assistance at the hospital. She looked after the 
serious cases, oversaw the laundry and the bandages, 
worked in the dispensary, sterilized the surgical instru- 
ments, made all the preparations for the operations herself, 
and administered the anesthetics, while Joseph acted as 
assistant. That she managed the complicated African house- 
hold successfully and still could find some hours to spare 
for the hospital every day was really an amazing achieve- 

To persuade the Africans that they needed an operation 
required no great skill from me. A few years earlier a govern- 
ment physician. Dr. Jaur6 Guibert, had performed several 
successful operations when he stayed at Lambarene on one 
of his journeys, so nobody had reason to be afraid of my 
modest surgical skills. Fortunately I did not lose a single 
one of the first patients on whom I operated. 

After a few months the hospital had to accommodate 
about forty patients every day. I had, however, to provide 
shelter not only for these but for their companions, who 
had brought them long distances in canoes and who stayed 
to paddle them back home again. 

Heavy as it was, I found the actual work a fighter burden 
than the care and responsibility that came with it. Unfor- 
tunately I am among those doctors who do not have the 
robust temperament desirable for this calling, but who 
worry about the condition of the seriously ill and of those 
who have undergone an operation. In vain have I tried to 
achieve that equanimity that permits the doctor to combine 


compassion for his patients with the necessary preservation 
of his own energies. 

Insofar as the rule could be enforced, I used to exact 
from my African patients some tangible evidence of their 
appreciation for the help they had received. Again and again 
I used to remind them that they enjoyed the blessing of 
the hospital because so many people in Europe had made 
sacrifices to provide it; it was, therefore, now their duty to 
give all the help they could to keep it going. Thus I grad- 
ually developed the practice whereby, in return for the 
medicines given, I would receive gifts of money, bananas, 
poultry, or eggs. These did not, of course, approach the 
value of the medicines, but it was a modest contribution 
to the upkeep of the hospital. With the bananas I could 
feed the sick whose provisions had given out, and with the 
money I could buy rice if the supply of bananas failed. I 
also thought that the Africans would appreciate the value 
of the hospital more if they themselves contributed to its 
maintenance, according to their ability, than if they simply 
got everything for nothing. 

Experience has confirmed the educational value of some 
form of payment. Of course no gift was exacted from the 
very poor and the old — and among the Africans age always 
means poverty. The most primitive among them, however, 
had a different conception of this present. When they left 
the hospital cured, they demanded a gift from me because 
I had now become their friend. 

In my exchanges with these primitive people I naturally 
asked myself the much debated question of whether they 
were mere prisoners of tradition, or whether they were 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 141 

capable of independent thought. In the conversations I 
had with them I found to my surprise that they were far 
more interested in the elemental questions about the 
meaning of life and the nature of good and evil than I had 

As I had expected, the questions of dogma to which the 
Missionary Society’s committee in Paris had attached so 
much importance played practically no part in the sermons 
of the missionaries. If they wanted to be understood by 
their listeners they could do nothing beyond preaching the 
simple Gospel of becoming freed from the world by the 
spirit of Jesus, the Gospel that comes to us in the Sermon 
on the Mount and the finest sayings of Paul. 

Necessity compelled them to present Christianity pri- 
marily as an ethical religion. When they met twice a year 
for conferences at different mission stations, they focused 
on the practical application of the Gospels, and not on 
problems of dogma. That some were more strict about mat- 
ters of doctrine than others did not influence their mis- 
sionary work, which they shared. As I did not make the 
smallest attempt to disturb them with my theological views, 
they soon laid aside all mistrust and rejoiced, as I did, that 
we were united in the piety of obedience to Jesus and in 
the will to simple Christian activity. Not many months after 
my arrival, they asked me to preach, and thus I was released 
from the promise I had given in Paris d’etre muet comme 
une carpe. 

I was also invited to attend as an observer the meetings 
of the Synod when the missionaries and the African preach- 
ers sat in council together. One day, when I had expressed 
my opinion on a certain point at the request of the mis- 
sionaries, one of the African preachers suggested that the 


matter was outside the Doctor’s province “because he is 
not a theologian.” 

I was also allowed to participate in the examination of 
the candidates for baptism. I generally got them to send 
me one or two old women so that I could make the trying 
half hour as easy as possible for them. On one such occa- 
sion, when I put to one worthy matron the question of 
whether the Lord Jesus had been rich or poor, she replied: 
“What a stupid question! If God, the Great Chief, was His 
Father, He certainly can’t have been poor.” And in general 
she answered with the Canaanite woman’s quickness of 
repartee. It was, however, of no help to her that the pro- 
fessor of theology gave her a good grade. The African 
preacher to whose district she belonged dealt with her more 
strictly so as to punish her for not having attended the 
catechism classes regularly. Her excellent answers found 
no favor in his eyes; he wanted to hear those that were in 
the catechism. So she failed and had to take the examination 
again six months later. 

I found preaching a great joy. To be allowed to preach 
the sayings of Jesus and Paul to people for whom they were 
quite new was a wonderful experience. As interpreters I 
had the African teachers of the mission school, who trans- 
lated each sentence at once into the language of the Galoas 
or of the Pahouins, or sometimes into both in succession. 

The little spare time that was at my disposal in the first 
year at Lambarene I devoted to work on the last three 
volumes of the American edition of Bach’s organ music. 

For keeping up my organ playing I had the magnificent 
piano with pedal attachment, built specially for the tropics, 
which the Paris Bach Society had presented to me in rec- 
ognition of my many years of service as their organist. 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 143 

At first, however, I lacked the courage to practice. I had 
tried to get used to the thought that my work in Africa 
would mean the end of my life as an artist and that re- 
nunciation of it would be easier if I allowed fingers and feet 
to grow rusty. One evening, however, as, in a melancholy 
mood, I was playing one of Bach’s organ fugues, it suddenly 
occurred to me that I might after all use my free hours in 
Africa to improve my technique and interpretation. I im- 
mediately decided to select compositions of Bach, Men- 
delssohn, Widor, Cesar Franck, and Max Reger, and to 
study them carefully down to the smallest detail, learning 
them by heart, even if a single piece took weeks or months. 

How I enjoyed being able to practice in my spare time, 
quietly and without being harassed by concert schedules, 
even though sometimes I could find only a half hour in the 

My wife and I had now completed our second dry season 
in Africa and were making plans for a trip home at the 
beginning of the third when, on August 5, 1914, the news 
came that war had broken out in Europe. 

On the evening of that very day we were informed that 
we must consider ourselves prisoners of war; we might 
remain in our own house for the present, but we must cease 
all contact with either white people or Africans and obey 
unconditionally the orders of the African soldiers who were 
assigned to be our guards. One of the missionaries and his 
wife, who like ourselves were Alsatians, were also interned 
at the Lambarene mission station. 

At first the Africans experienced only one aspect of the 
war: the timber trade was interrupted, and all commodities 


had become more expensive. Only later, when many of 
them were transported to Cameroon to serve as carriers 
for the active forces, did they understand what the war 
really meant. 

When it became known that, of the white men who used 
to live on the Ogowe, ten had already been killed, an old 
African remarked: “What, so many men killed already in 
this war! Why don’t their tribes talk it out in a palaver? 
How can they ever pay for all these dead men?” For in 
African warfare those who die, whether among the con- 
querors or the conquered, have to be paid for by the op- 
posite side. This same man observed that Europeans kill 
each other merely out of cruelty, and not out of necessity, 
because they don’t eat the dead. 

That white people were making prisoners of other whites 
and putting them under the authority of black soldiers was 
something incomprehensible to the Africans. What a tor- 
rent of abuse my African guards came in for from the people 
of the neighboring villages because they thought the guards 
were “the Doctor’s masters.” 

When I was forbidden to work in the hospital, I thought 
at first that I would proceed with the completion of my 
book on Paul. But at once another subject forced itself upon 
me, one about which I had thought for many years and 
which became a timely issue because of the war: the prob- 
lem of our civilization. So on the second day of my intern- 
ment, still quite amazed at being able to sit down at my 
writing table early in the morning as in the days before I 
took up medicine, I set to work on The Philosophy of Civ- 

The idea of pursuing this subject had first come to me 
in the summer of 1899 at the house of Ernst Curtius in 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 145 

Berlin. Hermann Grimm and others were conversing there 
one evening about a session of the academy from which 
they had just come when suddenly one of them — I forget 
who it was — exclaimed, “So we are all nothing but epi- 
gones!” This pronouncement struck me like a bolt of light- 
ning, because it put into words what I myself felt. 

Since my first years at the university I had grown to 
doubt increasingly the idea that mankind is steadily moving 
toward improvement. My impression was that the fire of 
its ideals was burning out without anyone noticing or wor- 
rying about it. On a number of occasions I had seen public 
opinion failing to reject officially proclaimed theses that 
were barbaric; on the contrary, it approved inhumane con- 
duct whether by governments or individuals. What was 
just and equitable seemed to be pursued with only luke- 
warm zeal. I noticed a number of symptoms of intellectual 
and spiritual fatigue in this generation that is so proud of 
its achievements. It seemed as if I were hearing its mem- 
bers trying to convince one another that their previous 
hopes for the future of mankind had been placed too high, 
and that it was becoming necessary to limit oneself to striv- 
ing for what was attainable. The slogan of the day, Real- 
politik,” meant approval of a shortsighted nationalism and 
a pact with the forces and tendencies that had hitherto been 
resisted as enemies of progress. One of the most visible 
signs of decline seemed to be the return of superstition, 
long banished from the educated circles of society. 

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, when people 
began to review their past achievements in order to mea- 
sure the progress that had been made, they displayed an 
optimism that I found incomprehensible. It was assumed 
everywhere not only that we had made progress in inven- 


tions and knowledge but that in the intellectual and ethical 
spheres we lived and moved at a height that had never 
before been attained and should never be lost. My own 
impression was that in our intellectual and spiritual life not 
only had we sunk below the level of past generations, but 
we were in many respects merely living on their achieve- 
ments, and that not a little of this heritage was beginning 
to melt away in our hands. 

And now, here was someone expressing the criticism that 
I myself had silently and half unconsciously leveled against 
our age! After that evening at Professor Curtius s house, 
along with my other work I always considered writing a 
book with the title “Wir Epigonen” (We Inheritors of a 

When I discussed these thoughts with my friends, they 
usually took them to be interesting paradoxes and mani- 
festations of a fin-de-si^cle pessimism. After that, I kept 
my ideas strictly to myself. Only in my sermons did I ex- 
press my doubts concerning our culture and spirituality. 

Now war had broken out as a result of the collapse of 
our civilization. “We Inheritors of a Past,” then, had lost 
its meaning. The book had been conceived as a criticism 
of civilization. It was meant to demonstrate its decadence 
and to draw attention to its inherent dangers. But since the 
catastrophe had already come about, what good could come 
of deliberating about the causes? 

I thought of writing for my own sake this book, which 
had thus become out of date. But could I be certain that 
the manuscript would not be taken from a prisoner of war? 
Was there any prospect of my returning to Europe again? 
In this spirit of complete detachment I set to work and went 
on with it even after I was allowed to go about and devote 
myself to the sick again. 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 147 

At the end of November, thanks to Widor’s intervention, 
as I learned afterward, we were released from our intern- 
ment. Even before that the order that kept me away from 
the sick had proved impossible to enforce. White and black 
alike had protested against being deprived of the services 
of the only doctor for hundreds of miles around for no 
apparent reason. The district commandant therefore felt 
obliged to give now to one, now to another, a note for my 
guards, telling them to let the bearer pass because he 
needed my help. 

After I resumed my medical activities in relative free- 
dom, I still found time to work on the book on civilization. 
Many a night I sat thinking and writing, overcome with 
emotion as I thought of those who at that very hour were 
lying in the trenches. 

At the beginning of the summer of 1915 1 awoke from some 
kind of mental daze. Why only criticize civilization? Why 
limit myself to analyzing ourselves as epigones? Why not 
work on something constructive? 

I then began to search for the knowledge and convictions 
that comprise the will to civilization and the power to realize 
it. “We Inheritors of a Past” expanded into a work dealing 
with the restoration of civilization. 

As I worked along, the connection between civilization 
and our concept of the world became clear to me. I rec- 
ognized that the catastrophe of civilization stemmed from 
a catastrophe in our thinking. 

The ideals of true civilization had lost their power be- 
cause the idealistic attitude toward life in which they are 
rooted had gradually been lost. All the events that occur 
within nations and within mankind can be traced to spiritual 


causes stemming from the prevailing attitude toward life. 

But what is civilization? 

The essential element in civilization is the ethical per- 
fecting of the individual as well as society. At the same 
time, every spiritual and every material step forward has 
significance for civilization. The will to civilization is, then, 
the univeri U will to progress that is conscious of the ethical 
as the highest value. In spite of the great importance we 
attach to the achievements of science and human prowess, 
it is obvious that only a humanity that is striving for ethical 
ends can benefit in full measure from material progress and 
can overcome the dangers that accompany it. The present 
situation was terrible proof of the misjudgment of the gen- 
eration that had adopted a belief in an immanent power of 
progress realizing itself, naturally and automatically, and 
which thought that it no longer needed any ethical ideals 
but could advance toward its goals by means of knowledge 
and work alone. 

The only possible way out of chaos is for us to adopt a 
concept of the world based on the ideals of true civilization. 

But what is the nature of that concept of the world in 
which the will to general progress and the will to ethical 
progress join and are linked together? 

It consists in an ethical affirmation of the world and of 

What is affirmation of the world and of life? 

To us Europeans and to people of European descent 
everywhere, the will to progress is something so natural 
and so much a matter of course that it never occurs to us 
that it is rooted in a concept of life and springs from an act 
of the spirit. But if we look around us, we soon notice that 
what we take for granted is not at all natural everywhere. 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 149 



In Indian thought all efforts to acquire knowledge and 
power and to improve the living conditions of man and 
society as a whole are considered mere folly. It teaches that 
the only wise attitude for a person is to withdraw entirely 
into himself and to concern himself with the perfecting of 
his inner life. What may become of human society and of 
mankind does not concern the individual. The meditation 
on the inner life in Indian thought consists of man’s sub- 
mission to the idea of giving up his will to live; it reduces 
his earthly existence to abstinence from all action and to 
negation of life in order to achieve a state of nonbeing. 

It is interesting to trace the origin of this unnatural idea 
of negation of the world. At first it had nothing whatever 
to do with any concept of the world, but was a magical idea 
of the Brahmin priests of early times. They believed that 
by detachment from the world and from life they could 
become supernatural beings and obtain magical powers. 
The experience of ecstasy has contributed to the growth of 
this idea. 

In the course of time this rejection of the world and of 
life, which was originally the privilege of the Brahmin, was 
developed into a system of thought that claimed to be valid 
for all men. 

Whether the will to progress is present or not depends, 
then, on the prevailing concept of the world and of life. A 
concept that negates this world excludes progress, while 
affirmation demands it. Among primitive and semiprimitive 
peoples, who have not yet faced the problem of acceptance 


or rejection of the world, there is also no will to progress. 
Their ideal is the simplest life with the least possible trou- 

We Europeans have only arrived at our will to progress 
in the course of time and through a change in our concep- 
tion of the world. In antiquity and in the Middle Ages we 
can find the first attempts. Greek thinking does try to es- 
tablish an affirmative attitude toward the world and toward 
life, but it fails in the attempt and ends in resignation. The 
attitude of the Middle Ages is determined by the ideas of 
primitive Christianity brought into harmony with Greek 
metaphysics. It is fundamentally a rejection of the world 
and of life because Christianity focused on the world be- 
yond, rather than on life on this earth. What manifests itself 
as affirmation of the world in the Middle Ages is inspired 
by the active ethic contained in the preaching of Jesus, and 
it is made possible through the creative forces of fresh and 
unspoiled peoples on whom Christianity had imposed a 
concept of the world that was in contradiction to their na- 

Gradually, the affirmation of life, already latent among 
the European peoples as a result of the Great Migration, 
begins to manifest itself. The Renaissance proclaims its free- 
dom from the medieval negation of the world and of life. 
An ethical character is given to this new world-accepting 
attitude by incorporating the ethic of love taught by Jesus. 
This, as an ethic of action, is strong enough to reject the 
negative concept of the world from which it had issued, 
and to arrive at the new affirmative attitude toward the 
world and life. In this way it attained the ideal realization 
of a spiritual and ethical world within the natural. 

The striving for material and spiritual progress that char- 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 151 

acterizes the people of modern Europe, therefore, has its 
source in the worldview at which these people had arrived. 

As heir to the Renaissance and the spiritual and religious 
movements connected with it, man gains a new perspective 
of himself and of the world. A need awakens to create 
spiritual and material values that would bring about change 
in individuals and in mankind. The modern European is 
not only enthusiastic about progress to his personal advan- 
tage. He is less concerned about his own fate than about 
the happiness of future generations. Enthusiasm for prog- 
ress has taken possession of him. Impressed by his discov- 
ery that the world is created and sustained by forces 
according to a definite design, he wills himself to become 
the active, purposeful force in the world. He looks with 
confidence toward the new and better times that will dawn 
for mankind. He learns by experience that ideas held and 
acted upon by the masses can gain power over circum- 
stances and transform them. 

It is upon this will to material progress, acting in con- 
junction with the will to ethical progress, that modern civ- 
ilization is founded. 

There is an essential relationship between the modern 
European attitude of ethical affirmation toward the world 
and life and that of Zarathustra and of Chinese thought, as 
we encounter it in the writings of Cong-tse, Meng-tse, Mi- 
tse, and the other great ethical thinkers of China. 

In each of these we can see the striving to remold the 
circumstances of peoples and of makind to achieve progress, 
even if the efforts are not as strong as those of modern 
Europe. In areas under the religious influences of Zara- 
thustra and the Chinese, a life-affirming civilization actually 
emerged. But they both met with a tragic end. The neo- 


Persian civilization based on the philosophy of Zarathustra 
was destroyed by Islam. The Chinese civilization is ham- 
pered in its natural development and threatened with decay 
by the pressure exerted upon it by European ideas and 
problems and by confusion caused by the country’s political 
and economic disorder. 

In modern European thought the tragedy is that the 
original bonds uniting the affirmative attitude toward the 
world with ethics are, by a slow but irresistible process, 
loosening and finally breaking apart. They will end in dis- 
integration. European humanity is being guided by a will 
to progress that has become merely external and has lost 
its bearings. 

By itself the affirmation of life can only produce a partial 
and imperfect civilization. Only if it turns inward and be- 
comes ethical can the will to progress attain the ability to 
distinguish the valuable from the worthless. We must 
therefore strive for a civilization that is not based on the 
accretion of science and power alone, but which cares most 
of all for the spiritual and ethical development of the in- 
dividual and of humankind. 

How could it come about that the modern concept of the 
world and of life changed its original ethical character to a 
nonethical one? 

The only possible explanation is that the ethical was not 
really founded on thought. The thought out of which it 
arose was noble and enthusiastic but not deep. The intimate 
connection between the ethical and the affirmative attitude 
toward life was a matter of intuition and experience, but 
was not based on proof. It proclaimed the affirmation of 
life and ethical principles without having penetrated to 
their essence and their inner connection. 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 153 

This noble and valuable concept of the world was based 
on belief in, rather than consistent thought about, the real 
nature of things; thus it was destined to fade with time and 
to lose its power over man’s mind. 

All subsequent thinking about the problems of ethics and 
man’s relation to his world could not but expose the weak 
points of this view. Thus, in spite of the original intention 
to defend this concept, it hastened its demise. It never 
succeeded in replacing an inadequate with an adequate 
foundation. Again and again attempts to build new foun- 
dations proved too weak to support the superstructure. 

With my apparently abstract yet absolutely practical 
thinking about the connection of civilization with philoso- 
phy, I had come to see the decay of civilization as a con- 
sequence of the continuous weakening of the ethical 
affirmation of life within modem worldviews. It had become 
clear to me that, like so many other people, I had clung to 
that concept of decay from inner necessity, without asking 
myself to what extent it could be supported by thought. 

I had got thus far during the summer of 1915. What was 
to come next? Could the difficulty be solved that until now 
had seemed insoluble? Was it imaginable that the world- 
view that alone had made civilization possible was an il- 
lusion destined to stir our minds but always remain hidden? 
To continue to hold this illusion up to our generation 
seemed to me absurd and degrading. Only if it offers itself 
to us as something arising from thought can it become our 
own spiritually. 

Fundamentally I remained convinced that ethics and the 
affirmation of life are interdependent and the precondition 


for all true civilization. A first step out of this impasse 
seemed imperative: to attain, through new, sincere, and 
direct contemplation, that truth we have hoped for in the 
past and which sometimes even seemed to be real. 

In undertaking this I felt like someone who has to replace 
a rotten boat that is no longer seaworthy with a new and 
better one, but does not know how to proceed. 

For months on end I lived in a continual state of mental 
agitation. Without the least success I concentrated — even 
during my daily work at the hospital — on the real nature 
of the affirmation of life and of ethics and on the question 
of what they have in common. I was wandering about in a 
thicket where no path was to be found. I was pushing 
against an iron door that would not yield. 

All that I had learned from philosophy about ethics left 
me dangling in midair. The notions of the Good that it had 
offered were all so lifeless, so unelemental, so narrow, and 
so lacking in content that it was impossible to relate them 
to an affirmative attitude. 

Moreover, philosophy never, or only rarely, concerned 
itself with the problem of the connection between civili- 
zation and concepts of the worldview. The affirmation of 
life in modem times seemed so natural that no need was 
felt to explore its meaning. 

To my surprise I recognized that the central province of 
philosophy into which my reflections on civilization and the 
worldview had led me was virtually unexplored territory. 
Now from this point, now from that, I tried to penetrate 
to its interior, but again and again I had to give up the 
attempt. I saw before me the concept that I wanted, but I 
could not catch hold of it. I could not formulate it. 

While in this mental state I had to take a long journey 
on the river. I was staying with my wife on the coast at 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 155 

Cape Lopez for the sake of her health— it was in September 
1915 — when I was called out to visit Madame Pelot, the 
ailin g wife of a missionary, at N’Gomo, about 160 miles 
upstream. The only transportation I could find was a small 
steamer, which was about to leave, towing two overloaded 
barges. In addition to myself, only Africans were on board, 
among them my friend Emil Ogouma from Lambarend. 
Since I had been in too much of a hurry to arrange for 
enough provisions for the journey, they invited me to share 
their food. 

Slowly we crept upstream, laboriously navigating — it was 
the dry season — between the sandbanks. Lost in thought 
I sat on the deck of the barge, struggling to find the ele- 
mentary and universal concept of the ethical that I had not 
discovered in any philosophy. I covered sheet after sheet 
with disconnected sentences merely to concentrate on the 
problem. Two days passed. Late on the third day, at the 
very moment when, at sunset, we were making our way 
through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my 
mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase “reverence for 
life.” The iron door had yielded. The path in the thicket 
had become visible. Now I had found my way to the prin- 
ciple in which affirmation of the world and ethics are joined 

I was at the root of the problem. I knew that the ethical 
acceptance of the world and of life, together with the ideals 
of civilization contained in this concept, has its foundation 
in thought. 

What is Reverence for Life, and how does it develop in us? 

If man wishes to have a clear idea about himself and his 
relation to the world, he must turn away from the various 


concepts created by his reason and knowledge and reflect 
upon his own consciousness, the elemental, the most im- 
mediate reality. Only if he starts from this given fact can 
he arrive at a thoughtful concept. 

Descartes begins with the sentence “I think, therefore I 
am” ( Cogito , ergo sum). With his beginning thus chosen, 
he pursues the road to the abstract. Out of this act of think- 
ing, which is without substance and artificial, nothing con- 
cerning the relation of man to himself and to the universe 
can come. In reality, however, the most immediate act of 
consciousness has some content. To think means to think 
something. The most immediate fact of man’s consciousness 
is the assertion “I am life that wills to live in the midst of 
life that wills to live,” and it is as will to live in the midst 
of will to live that man conceives himself at every moment 
that he spends meditating on himself and the world around 

As my will to live includes an ardent desire to perpetuate 
life and the mysterious exaltation of the will to live, which 
we call happiness, and while there is fear of destruction 
and of the mysterious damage of the will to live, which we 
call pain, so too is this will to live in those around me, 
whether it expresses itself to me or remains mute. 

Man must now decide how he will live in the face of his 
will to live. He can deny it. But if he wants to change his 
will to live into the will not to live, as is the case in Indian 
and indeed in all pessimistic thought, he creates a contra- 
diction with himself. He builds his philosophy of life on a 
false premise, something that cannot be realized. 

Indian thought, like that of Schopenhauer, is full of con- 
tradictions because it cannot help but make concessions 
over and over again to the will to live, which persists in 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 157 

spite of all negation of the world, though it will not admit 
that these are concessions. Negation of the will to live is 
only consistent with itself if it decides to put an end to 
physical existence. 

If man affirms his will to live, he acts naturally and sin- 
cerely. He confirms an act, which has already been accom- 
plished unconsciously, by bringing it to his conscious 

The beginning of thought, a beginning that continually 
repeats itself, is that man does not simply accept his exis- 
tence as something given, but experiences it as something 
unfathomably mysterious. 

Affirmation of life is the spiritual act by which man ceases 
to live thoughtlessly and begins to devote himself to his 
life with reverence in order to give it true value. To affirm 
life is to deepen, to make more inward, and to exalt the 
will to live. 

At the same time the man who has become a thinking 
being feels a compulsion to give to every will to live the 
same reverence for life that he gives to his own. He ex- 
periences that other life in his own. He accepts as good 
preserving life, promoting life, developing all life that is 
capable of development to its highest possible value. He 
considers as evil destroying life, injuring life, repressing 
life that is capable of development. This is the absolute, 
fundamental principle of ethics, and it is a fundamental 
postulate of thought. 

Until now the great weakness in all ethical systems has 
been that they dealt only with the relations of man to man. 
In reality, however, the question is, What is our attitude 
toward the universe and all that it supports? A man is ethical 
only when life as such is sac r e d to him — the life of plants 


and animals as well as that of his fellow men — and when 
he devotes himself to helping all life that is in need of help. 

Only the universal ethic of growing responsibility for all 
that lives — only that ethic can be founded solidly in 
thought. The ethic of the relation of man to man is nothing 
but a fragment of the universal ethic. 

The ethic of Reverence for Life, therefore, comprehends 
within itself everything that can be described as love, de- 
votion, and compassion in suffering, the sharing of joy and 
common endeavors. 

The world, however, offers us the horrible drama of will 
to live divided against itself. One existence holds its own 
at the cost of another; one destroys another. Only in the 
thinking man has the will to live become conscious of other 
wills to live and desirous of solidarity with them. This sol- 
idarity, however, he cannot completely bring about, be- 
cause man is subject to the puzzling and horrible law of 
being obliged to live at the cost of other life and to incur 
again and again the guilt of destroying and injuring life. 
But as an ethical being he strives to escape whenever pos- 
sible from this necessity, and as one who has become know- 
ing and merciful, he tries to end this division of the will to 
live insofar as it is in his power. He aspires to prove his 
humanity and to release others from their sufferings. 

Reverence for Life arising from the will to live that is 
inspired by thought contains the affirmation of life and eth- 
ics inseparably combined. It seeks to create values and to 
make progress of various kinds that will serve the material, 
spiritual, and ethical development of the individual and of 

While the unthinking modern affirmation of life vacillates 
between its ideals of science and those of power, a reflective 
affirmation of life proposes the spiritual and ethical per- 

First Activities in Africa, 1913-1917 159 

fecting of mankind as the highest ideal, an ideal from which 
alone all other ideals of progress receive their real value. 

Through ethical affirmation of the world and of life, we 
reach a deeper comprehension of life that enables us to 
distinguish between what is essential in civilization and 
what is not. The absurd pretension of considering ourselves 
civilized loses its power over us. We confront the truth 
that, with so much progress in knowledge and power, it 
has become not easier but more difficult to attain true civ- 

The problem of the mutual relationship between the spir- 
itual and the material dawns on us. We know that we all 
have to struggle with circumstances to preserve our own 
humanity. We must do all we can so that the desperate 
struggle that many fight in order to preserve their humanity 
amid unfavorable social circumstances will become a battle 
that has a chance of success. 

A deepened ethical will to progress that springs from 
thought will lead us back, then, out of our poor civilization 
with its many faults to true civilization. Sooner or later the 
true and final renaissance must dawn, which will bring 
peace to the world. 

By then a plan for my whole Philosophy of Civilization stood 
our clearly in my mind. It fell quite naturally into four 
parts: (1) the present lack of civilization and its causes; 
(2) a discussion of the idea of Reverence for Life in relation 
to the attempts made in the past by European philosophy 
to provide a foundation for an affirmative ethical attitude 
toward the world; (3) an exposition of the concept of Rev- 
erence for Life; (4) the civilized state. 

The writing of the second part, the description of Eu- 


ropean philosophy’s tragic struggle to arrive at an ethical 
basis for acceptance of the world, was forced upon me. I 
felt an inner need to explore the historical development of 
the problem and to offer my solution as a synthesis of all 
previous solutions. I have never regretted having suc- 
cumbed to this temptation. In my attempt to understand 
the thought of others my own became clearer. 

I had brought some of the philosophical works needed 
for this historical research with me to Africa. The others I 
needed were sent to me by Mr. Strohl, professor of zoology 
at Zurich, and his wife. The well-known Bach singer, Rob- 
ert Kaufmann of Zurich, whom I had so often accompanied 
on the organ, also helped to keep me in touch with the 
outside world, with the assistance of the Office des Internes 
Civils at Geneva. 

Without haste I sketched rough drafts of the material I 
had collected and sifted, without regard to the structure of 
the final treatise. At the same time I began to write out 
individual sections. 

Every day I was aware of the great blessing that I could 
save lives while others were forced to kill, and that at the 
same time I could work toward the coming of the era of 

Fortunately my supply of drugs and bandages did not 
give out, for I had received a large supply of all necessary 
items from one of the last boats to arrive before the outbreak 
of war. 

Because my wife’s health had suffered from the stifling 
air of Lambarene, we spent the rainy season of 1916-1917 
on the coast. A timber merchant provided us with a house 
at Chienga near Cape Lopez at the mouth of one of the 
tributaries of the Ogowe. It was the home of an employee 

First Activities in Africa, 1913—1917 161 

of his who had looked after the timber rafts, but as a con- 
sequence of the war it now stood empty. In return for his 
kindness I joined his African workers rolling the okoume 
logs, which had already been tied together in rafts, onto 
dry land. They then would be preserved from ship-worms 
during the long interval that might elapse before cargoes 
could again be shipped to Europe. 

This heavy work — we often needed hours to roll up on 
the shore a single log weighing from two to three tons — 
was possible only at high tide. When the tide was low, I 
sat with my Philosophy of Civilization, insofar as my time 
was not claimed by patients. 

Garaison and St. Remy 

In September 1917, just after I had 
resumed my work in Labarene, we re- 
ceived orders to embark at once on the 
next ship to Europe, to be placed in 
a prisoner-of-war camp. Fortunately 
the ship was a few days late, so with 
the help of the missionaries and a few 
Africans, we had time to pack our be- 
longings, including drugs and instru- 
ments, in cases and to stow them all 
in a small corrugated-iron building. 

It would have been useless to con- 
sider taking the sketches for The Phi- 
losophy of Civilization with me. They 
might have been confiscated at any 


Caraison and St. Remy 163 

customs inspection. I therefore entrusted them to the 
American missionary, Mr. Ford, who was then working at 
Lambarene. He admitted to me that he would have pre- 
ferred to throw the heavy packet into the river, because 
he considered philosophy to be unnecessary and harmful. 
However, out of Christian charity he was willing to keep it 
and send it to me at the end of the war. To save what I had 
already done in the event that something might happen to 
it, I spent two nights writing a summary in French that con- 
tained the main ideas and the sequence of the chapters already 
finished. So that it would appear remote from actual life 
and therefore inoffensive to the censors, I inserted chapter 
headings to make it look like a historical study of the Ren- 
aissance. As it turned out, I did in this way secure its escape 
from confiscation, which on several occasions threatened it. 

Two days before our departure, amid packed and half- 
packed cases, I had to operate with all haste on a stran- 
gulated hernia. 

Just when we had been taken on board the river steamer 
and the Africans were shouting to us an affectionate farewell 
from the bank, the father superior of the Catholic mission 
came onboard, waved aside with an authoritative gesture 
the African soldiers who tried to prevent his approach, and 
shook hands with us. “You shall not leave this country,” he 
said, “without my thanking you both for all the good that 
you have done.” We were never to see each other again. 
Shortly after the war he lost his life on board the Afrique, 
the ship that had taken us to Europe, when she was wrecked 
in the Bay of Biscay. 

At Cape Lopez a white man whose wife I had once treated 
as a patient came up to me and offered me some money in 
case I had none. How grateful I now was for the gold I had 


taken with me on the chance that war might break out! An 
hour before we started I had visited an English timber 
merchant whom I knew well, and had exchanged it at a 
favorable rate for French notes, which my wife and I now 
carried sewn into our clothing. 

On the liner we were put in charge of a white officer 
who was obliged to see to it that we had no exchanges with 
anyone except the steward specifically assigned to us, who 
at certain appointed hours took us on deck. Since writing 
was impossible, I filled my time with learning by heart 
some of Bach’s fugues and Widor’s Sixth Organ Symphony. 

Our steward — whose name, if I remember correctly, was 
Gaillard — was very good to us. Toward the end of the voy- 
age he asked us whether we had noticed that he had treated 
us with special kindness considering that we were pris- 
oners. “I always served your meals promptly, and your 
cabin was just as clean as that of the others.” (This was an 
accurate statement in view of the untidiness of the African 
ships during the war.) “Can you guess,” he continued, “why 
I did this? Certainly not because I expected a good tip. 
One never expects that from prisoners. Why then? I’ll tell 
you. A few months ago a Mr. Gaucher, whom you had had 
as a patient for months in your hospital, traveled home in 
this ship in one of my cabins. ‘Gaillard,’ he said to me, ‘it 
may happen that before long you will be taking the Lam- 
barene doctor to Europe as a prisoner. If he ever does 
travel on your ship, and should you be able to help him in 
any way, do so for my sake.’ Now you know why I took 
such good care of you.” 

For three weeks we were put in the caserne de passage 
(temporary barracks) in the rue de Belleville at Bordeaux, 

Caraison and St. R6my 165 

where during the war interned foreigners were housed. 
There I soon developed the symptoms of dysentery. For- 
tunately I had in my baggage some emetine with which to 
fight it. I suffered from this illness for a long time afterward, 

Next we were taken to the huge internment camp at 
Garaison in the Pyrenees. We mistakenly failed to interpret 
the order to make ourselves ready for departure during the 
night as meaning that very night, so we had packed nothing 
when around midnight two gendarmes came with a carriage 
to take us away. They were angry at what they supposed 
to be our disobedience, and since packing by the light of 
one miserable candle was a very slow process, they became 
impatient and wanted to take us off, leaving our baggage 
behind. Finally, however, they had pity on us and even 
helped us to collect our possessions and to stuff them into 
our trunks. The memory of those two gendarmes has often 
since then made me behave patiently with others when 
impatience seemed justifiable! 

When we were deposited at Garaison and the officer 
on guard was inspecting our baggage, he stumbled onto 
a French translation of the Politics of Aristotle, which I had 
brought with me with a view to the work on The Philosophy 
of Civilization. “Why, it’s incredible!” he stormed. “They’re 
actually bringing political books into a prisoner-of-war camp!” 
I timidly remarked to him that the book was written long 
before the birth of Christ. “Hey, scholar, is that true?” he 
asked of a soldier who was standing nearby. The latter 
corroborated my statement. “What! You mean to say that 
people talked politics as long ago as that?” he asked back. 
Upon our answering in the affirmative, he gave his decision: 
“Anyhow, we don’t say the same things about it today, and 
as far as I am concerned you can keep your book. ” 









Garaison (Provencal for g uerison, “healing”) was once a 
large monastery to which the sick came from long distances 
on pilgrimages. After the separation of church and state it 
stood empty and in a state of decay until, at the outbreak 
of war, hundreds of aliens from enemy countries — men, 
women, and children — were housed in it. In twelve months 
it was restored to comparatively good condition by crafts- 
men who were among the interned. The governor of the 
camp was a retired colonial official named Vecchi, a theos- 
ophist, who carried out his duties not only with fairness 
but with kindness, a fact that was all the more gratefully 
acknowledged because his predecessor had been strict and 

On the second day after our arrival, as I stood shivering 
in the courtyard a prisoner introduced himself to me as 
mill engineer Borkeloh, and asked what he could do to 
assist me. He was in my debt, he said, because I had cured 
his wife. That was the case, although I did not know the 
wife any more than she knew me. It so happened that at 
the beginning of the war I had given to the representative 
of a Hamburg timber firm, Richard Classen by name, sent 
from Lambarene to a prisoner-of-war camp in Dahomey, a 
good supply of quinine, Blaud’s pills, emetine, arrhenal, 
bromnatrium, sleeping drafts, and other drugs for himself 
and the other prisoners whom he would meet. On each 
bottle I had written detailed directions for use. From Da- 
homey he was taken to France and found himself in the 
same camp as Mr. Borkeloh and his wife. When Mrs. Bor- 
keloh lost her appetite and suffered from depression, she 
was given some of the drugs, which Mr. Classen had as if 
by a miracle preserved through all the baggage inspections, 
and she recovered. I now received my fee for this cure 

Garaison and St. Remy 167 

in the form of a table, which Mr. Borkeloh made for me 
out of wood he had torn loose somewhere in the loft. 
Now I could write . . . and play the organ. On the boat I 
had already done some organ practice by using a table as 
manual and the floor as pedals, as I had done when I was 
a child. 

A few days later I was asked by the eldest of some gypsy 
musicians who were fellow prisoners whether I was the 
Albert Schweitzer whose name occurred in Romain Rol- 
land’s book Musiciens d’aujourd’hui. When I said yes, he 
told me that he and his fellows would regard me from then 
on as one of themselves. That meant that I might be present 
when they played in the loft and that my wife and I would 
be treated to a serenade on our birthdays. In fact my wife 
did awake on her birthday to the sounds of the waltz from 
The Tales of Hoffmann played with verve and style. These 
gypsy performers, who used to play in the fashionable cafes 
of Paris, had been allowed to keep their instruments as the 
tools of their trade when they were taken prisoner, and 
now they were allowed to practice in the camp. 

Not long after our arrival some newcomers were brought 
from another camp, which had been broken up. They at 
once began to grumble about the poorly prepared food and 
criticized their fellow prisoners who occupied the much 
envied posts in the kitchen as not fit for their job. This 
caused great indignation among the latter, who were profes- 
sional cooks and had come to Garaison from the first-class 
hotels and restaurants of Paris! 

The matter came before the governor, and when he asked 
the rebels which of them were cooks, it turned out that 
there was not a single cook among them! Their leader was 
a shoemaker, and the others were tailors, hatters, basket 


weavers, and brush makers. In their previous camp, how- 
ever, they had applied themselves to the cooking and de- 
clared that they had mastered the art of preparing food in 
large quantities so that it was just as tasty as when prepared 
in small quantities. With Solomonic wisdom the governor 
decided that they should take over the kitchen for a fort- 
night as an experiment. If they did better than the others, 
they should keep the posts. Otherwise they would be put 
under lock and key as disturbers of the peace. On the very 
first day they proved with potatoes and cabbage that they 
had not claimed too much, and every succeeding day was 
a new triumph. So the noncooks were appointed “cooks,” 
and the professional cooks were turned out of the kitchen! 
When I asked the shoemaker the secret of their success, 
he replied: “One must know all sorts of things, but most 
important is to do the cooking with love and care.” Now if 
I learn that someone has been appointed minister of some 
department in a field about which he knows nothing, I do 
not get as excited over it as I used to. I keep calm and hope 
that he will prove as fit for his job as the Garaison shoemaker 
had proved to be for his. 

Strange to say, I was the only physician among the in- 
terned. When we arrived, the governor had strictly for- 
bidden me to have anything to do with the sick, since 
that was the business of the official camp doctor, an old 
country practitioner from the neighborhood. Later on, 
however, he thought it only just that I be allowed to let 
the camp benefit from my professional knowledge, as it 
did from that of the dentists, of whom there were several 
among us. He even gave me a room to use for this pur- 
pose. As my baggage contained chiefly drugs and instru- 
ments, which the sergeant had let me retain after the 

Garaison and St. Remy 169 

inspection, I had almost everything that I needed for treat- 
ment of the sick. I was able to give especially effective help 
to those who had been brought there from the colonies, as 
well as to the many sailors who were suffering from tropical 

Thus I was once more a doctor. What leisure time I had 
left I devoted to The Philosophy of Civilization and to prac- 
ticing the organ on the table and the floor. 

As a physician I got a glimpse of the manifold misery that 
prevailed in the camp. The worst off were those who suf- 
fered mentally from confinement. From the moment we 
could go down into the courtyard until the trumpet signal 
that at dusk drove us back, they kept walking round and 
round looking out over the walls at the glorious white shim- 
mering chain of the Pyrenees. They no longer had the 
stamina to occupy themselves with anything. When it 
rained, they stood about apathetically in the passages. In 
addition, most of them suffered from malnutrition, because 
they had gradually developed a distaste for the monotonous 
fare, although it was acceptable for a prisoner-of-war camp. 
Many suffered from the cold as well, since most of the rooms 
could not be heated. For these people, weakened in body 
and soul, the slightest ailment meant a real illness that was 
very hard to get at and treat successfully. In many cases 
the depression was prolonged by lamentation over loss of 
the position they had secured in a foreign land. They did 
not know where they would go or what they would do when 
the gates of Garaison opened and let them out. Many had 
married French women and had children who could speak 
nothing but French. Could they be asked to leave their 


homeland? Could they face the struggle of finding accep- 
tance and employment in a new land? 

The children of the camp, pale and freezing, and most 
of them only French-speaking, fought continuous battles 
in the courtyard and the corridors. Some were for the en- 
tente; some were on the side of the central European pow- 

To anyone who kept in some measure healthy and vig- 
orous the camp offered much of interest, owing to the fact 
that people from many nations and of almost every profes- 
sion were to be found there. There were scholars and art- 
ists, especially painters, who had been caught in Paris by 
the war; German and Austrian shoemakers and dressmakers 
who had been employed by the big Paris firms; bank di- 
rectors, hotel managers, waiters, engineers, architects, 
craftsmen, and businessmen who had made their homes in 
France and her colonies; Catholic missionaries and mem- 
bers of religious orders from the Sahara, wearing white 
robes with the red fez; traders from Liberia and other dis- 
tricts on the West Coast of Africa; merchants and com- 
mercial travelers from North America, South America, 
China, and India who had been taken prisoner on the high 
seas; the crews of German and Austrian merchant ships 
who had suffered the same fate; Turks, Arabs, Greeks, and 
nationals of the Balkan States who for various reasons had 
been deported during the course of operations in the east, 
and among them Turks with wives who went about veiled. 
What a motley picture did the courtyard offer twice a day 
when the roll was called! 

No books were needed in the camp to improve one’s 
education. For everything one might want to learn, there 
were men with specialized knowledge at one’s disposal. 

Garaison and St. R6my 171 

and from this unique opportunity for learning I profited 
greatly. About finances, architecture, factory building and 
equipment, grain growing, furnace building, and many 
other things, I picked up information I could probably 
never have acquired elsewhere. 

Perhaps the worst sufferers were the craftsmen, con- 
demned to idleness. When my wife secured some material 
for a warm dress, quite a number of tailors offered to make 
it for nothing, merely in order to have some cloth in their 
hands once more, and needle and thread between their 

Permission to help the farmers of the neighborhood in 
their work was sought not only by those who knew some- 
thing about agriculture but by many who were accustomed 
to physical work of any sort. Those who displayed the least 
desire for activity were the numerous sailors. Their life- 
style onboard ship had taught them how to pass the time 
together in the simplest ways. 

At the beginning of 1918 we were informed that a certain 
number of the “notables” in the camp would be chosen by 
last names from each letter of the alphabet and sent to a 
reprisals camp in North Africa — if I remember rightly — 
unless by a certain date the measures being taken by the 
Germans against the civilian population of Belgium were 
not suspended. We were all advised to send this news 
home so that our relatives might do whatever necessary 
to save us from this fate. “Notables,” i.e., bank directors, 
hotel managers, merchants, scholars, artists, and such 
folk, were chosen because it was assumed that their fate 
would attract more attention in their home districts than 
that of the obscure majority. This proclamation brought 
to light the fact that among our notables were many 


persons who were not notable at all. Head waiters, when 
delivered here, had given their profession as hotel di- 
rectors so as to count for something in the camp; shop 
assistants had elevated themselves to the rank of mer- 
chants. Now they lamented the danger that threatened 
them on account of the fictitious ranks they had assumed. 
However, all ended well. The measures being taken against 
the Belgians were rescinded and Garaison’s notables, 
whether genuine or fake, had for the present no reprisals 
camp to fear. 

After a long and severe winter, spring came at last, and 
with it an order that my wife and I were to be sent to a 
camp intended for Alsatians only, at St. Remy de Pro- 
vence. In vain we begged for the rescinding of this order — 
the governor, that he might keep his camp doctor, and 
we, that we might remain in the camp where we felt at 

At the end of March we were transferred to St. Remy. 
The camp was not as cosmopolitan as the one at Garaison. 
It was occupied chiefly by teachers, foresters, and railway 
employees. But I met there many people I knew, among 
them the young Giinsbach schoolmaster, John litis, and a 
young pastor named Liebrich, who had been one of my 
students. He had permission to hold services on Sundays 
and, as his curate, I was given a good many opportunities 
to preach. 

The governor, a retired police commissioner from Mar- 
seilles named Bagnaud, had established benign rules. Char- 
acteristic of his jovial temperament was the answer he used 
to give to the question whether such-and-such a thing was 

Garaison and St. Remy 173 

permitted. “Rien n est permis! Mais il y a des choses qui 
sont tolerees, si vous vous montrez raisonnables!” (“Noth- 
ing is permitted! But there are certain things that are tol- 
erated, if you show yourselves reasonable!”) Since he could 
not pronounce my name he used to call me Monsieur Al- 

The first time I entered the big room on the ground floor 
where we spent the day it struck me as being strangely 
familiar in its unadorned and bare ugliness. Where had I 
seen that iron stove and the flue pipe stretching across the 
room from one end to another? Eventually the mystery was 
solved: I knew them from a drawing of van Gogh. The N 
building in which we were housed, once a monastery inside 
a walled garden, had until recently been occupied by men- j 
tal patients. Among them at one time had been van Gogh, 
who immortalized with his pencil the desolate room in 
which today we in our turn were sitting. Like us, he had 
suffered from the cold stone floor when the mistral blew! 
Like us, he had walked round and round behind those high 

As one of the interned was a doctor, I had nothing to do 
with the sick at first, and could spend the whole day with 
my notes for my philosophy of Western civilization. Later 
on, my colleague was exchanged and allowed to go home, 
and I became camp doctor, but the work was not as heavy 
as at Garaison. 

My wife’s health had improved considerably in the moun- 
tain climate of Garaison, but now she suffered from the 
harsh winds of Provence. She could not get used to the 
stone floors. I too felt far from well. Ever since my attack 
of dysentery at Bordeaux I had been aware of a continually 
increasing weariness, which I tried in vain to master. I tired 


easily, and we were both unable to join in the walks the 
camp inmates were allowed to take on certain days, es- 
corted by the guards. The walks were always at a rapid 
pace because the prisoners wanted to get as much exercise 
out of them as possible and to go as far from camp as time 
permitted. We were thankful indeed that on those days the 
governor used to take us and other weak prisoners out 

Back in Alsace 

For the sake of my wife, who suffered 
greatly from confinement and from 
homesickness, I was glad indeed 
when, around the middle of July, we 
were told that we were all, or nearly 
all, going to be exchanged and should 
be able to return home via Switzerland 
in a few days. Fortunately my wife did 
not notice that my name was missing 
from the list the governor had been 
given of those to be released. On July 
12, at midnight, we were awakened. 
An order had been received by tele- 
graph that we should at once make our 
preparations for departure. This time 



every name was on the list. As the sun rose we dragged 
our baggage into the courtyard for inspection. I was allowed 
to take with me the notes for The Philosophy of Civilization, 
which I had committed to paper here and at Garaison and 
which had already been checked by the camp censor, after 
he had put his stamp upon a certain number of pages. As 
the convoy passed through the gate I ran back to see the 
governor once more, and found him sitting sorrowfully in 
his office. He grieved over the departure of his prisoners. 
We still write to each other, and he addresses me as “mon 
cher pensionnaire” (my dear boarder). 

At the station at Tarascon we had to wait in a distant 
shed for the arrival of our train. When it came, my wife 
and I, burdened with heavy luggage, could hardly move. 
A poor cripple whom I had treated in the camp came for- 
ward to help us. He had no baggage because he had no 
possessions, and I was much moved by his offer, which I 
accepted. While we walked along side by side in the scorch- 
ing sun, I vowed to myself that in memory of him I would 
in future always keep a lookout at stations for heavily laden 
people and help them. And I have kept this vow. On one 
occasion, however, my offer made me the suspect of thiev- 
ish intentions! 

Between Tarascon and Lyons we were charmingly re- 
ceived at one station by a committee of ladies and gentle- 
men and escorted to tables loaded with good food. While 
we were enjoying ourselves, however, our hosts became 
curiously embarrassed, and after a few hurried words to 
each other, they withdrew. They had realized that we were 
not the guests for whom the welcome and the meal had 
been intended. They were expecting refugees from occu- 
pied territory in northern France, who were being dis- 

Back in Alsace 177 

patched by the Germans to France through Switzerland 
after a brief internment, and would now stay for a time in 
southern France. 

When the arrival of a train d’internes had been an- 
nounced, the committee that had been formed to look after 
these refugees as they passed through took it for granted 
that we were the travelers they were expecting, and they 
had only become aware of their mistake when they heard 
their guests speaking not French but Alsatian. The situation 
was so comical that it ended with the disillusioned com- 
mittee joining good-humoredly in the laughter. But best of 
all most of our party were so busy eating that they noticed 
nothing since it all happened so quickly, and they journeyed 
on in the sincere belief that they had done fitting honor to 
a good meal that had been intended for them. 

During the remainder of the journey our train grew 
longer and longer as the coaches from other camps were 
added to it one after another at different stations. Two of 
them were filled with basket and kettle menders, scissors 
grinders, tramps, and gypsies, who were also being ex- 

At the Swiss frontier our train was held up for a consid- 
erable time until a telegram brought the news that the train 
conveying the people for whom we were being exchanged 
had also reached the Swiss frontier. 

Early on July 15 we arrived at Zurich. To my astonish- 
ment I was called out of the train by Arnold Meyer, the 
professor of theology, Robert Kaufmann, the singer, and 
other friends who had gathered to welcome me. They had 
known for weeks that I was coming. 

During the journey to Constance we stood at the win- 
dows and could not see enough of the well-cultivated fields 


and the clean houses of Switzerland. We could hardly grasp 
the fact that we were in a country that had not been affected 
by the war. 

The impression we received in Constance was dreadful. 
Here we had before our eyes for the first time the starvation 
of which until then we had only known by hearsay. Only 
pale, emaciated people in the streets. How wearily they 
went about! It was surprising that they could still stand. 

My wife received permission to go immediately to Stras- 
bourg with her parents, who had come to meet us. I had 
to spend another day in Constance with the others and wait 
until all the necessary formalities were completed. I 
reached Strasbourg during the night. Not a light was burn- 
ing in the streets. Not a glimmer of light shining from any 
dwelling. The city had to be completely dark on account 
of air attacks. I could not hope to reach the distant garden 
suburb where my wife’s parents lived, and I had consid- 
erable trouble finding the way to Frau Fischer’s house near 
St. Thomas. 

Since Giinsbach was within the sphere of military opera- 
tions, many office visits and papers were needed to obtain 
permission to find my father. Trains still ran as far as Col- 
mar, but the ten miles from there toward the Vosges had 
to be covered on foot. 

So this was the peaceful valley that I had left on Good 
Friday, 1913. There were dull roars from guns in the moun- 
tains. On the roads one walked between lines of wire net- 
ting packed with straw, as between high walls. These were 
intended to hide the traffic in the valley from the enemy 
batteries on the crest of the Vosges. 

Back in Alsace 179 

Everywhere there were concrete emplacements for ma- 
chine guns. Houses ruined by gunfire. Hills that I had 
remembered as covered with woods now stood bare. The 
shell fire had left only a few stumps here and there. In the 
villages orders were posted that everyone must carry a gas 
mask with him at all times. 

Gunsbach was the last inhabited village before the 
trenches. Hidden by the surrounding mountains, it had not 
been destroyed by the artillery fire on the heights of the 
Vosges. Among crowds of soldiers and between lines of 
battered houses the inhabitants went about their business 
as if there were no war going on. That they could not bring 
the second hay crop home from the meadows by day 
seemed as natural to them as rushing to the cellars when- 
ever the alarm sounded, or the fact that they might at any 
moment receive an order to evacuate the village on short 
notice if an attack was imminent, forcing them to leave all 
their possessions behind. 

My father had become so indifferent to danger that he 
remained in his study during the bombardments, when 
most people went to their cellars. He could hardly remem- 
ber a time when he had not shared the vicarage with officers 
and soldiers. 

Anxiety about the harvest, however, weighed heavily on 
people who had otherwise become indifferent to the war. 
A terrible drought prevailed. The grain was drying up; the 
potatoes were ruined; on many meadows the grass crop was 
so thin that it was not worth mowing; from the stables 
resounded the bellows of hungry cattle. Even if a storm 
cloud rose above the horizon it brought not rain but wind, 
which robbed the soil of its remaining moisture, and clouds 
of dust adumbrating the specter of starvation. 


Meanwhile my wife also had obtained permission to come 
to Giinsbach. 

I hoped in vain that among my native hills I should rid 
myself of the fatigue and the now slight, now severe attacks 
of the fever from which I had suffered since the last weeks 
at St. Remy. From day to day I felt worse until, toward 
the end of August, a high-fever attack followed by violent 
pains made me realize that these were the aftereffects of 
the dysentery I had contracted at Bordeaux and that an 
immediate operation was necessary. Accompanied by my 
wife, I dragged myself six kilometers toward Colmar before 
we could find a vehicle of any sort. On September 1 1 was 
operated on by Professor Stolz in Strasbourg. 

As soon as I was able to do some work, the mayor of 
Strasbourg, Mr. Schwander, offered me a position as a 
doctor at the municipal hospital, an offer that I joyfully 
accepted, for I really did not know how I was going to live. 
I was put in charge of two women’s wards in the derma- 
tology department. At the same time I was appointed curate 
at St. Nicholai once more. I am also deeply indebted to 
the Chapter of St. Thomas for placing at my disposal the 
unoccupied parsonage that belonged to the church on the 
quay of St. Nicholai, although, being only a curate, I had 
no claim on it. 

After the armistice, when Alsace was returned from Ger- 
man rule to French, I was for some time alone in charge 
of the services at St. Nicholai. Mr. Gerold, who had been 
removed from his post by the German administration be- 
cause of his anti-German pronouncements, had not yet 
been reappointed by the French, and Mr. Ernst, the suc- 
cessor to Mr. Knittel, had been compelled to resign because 
of his anti-French views. 

Back in Alsace 181 

During the armistice period and the following two years 
I was a familiar figure to the customs officials at the Rhine 
Bridge because I frequently went over to Kehl with a knap- 
sack full of provisions for starving friends in Germany. I 
made a special point of helping in this way Frau Cosima 
Wagner and the aged painter Hans Thoma, together with 
his sister Agatha. I had known Hans Thoma for years 
through Frau Charlotte Schumm, whose late husband had 
been his childhood friend. 

Physician and Preacher 
in Strasbourg 

I hoped to spend the little free time 
my two jobs left me with Bach’s choral 
preludes. As soon as I could reclaim 
the manuscript I had drafted at Lam- 
barene, I wanted to finish the last three 
volumes for the American publisher. 
But as the parcel seemed never to 
come and the American publisher 
showed no desire to rush into publi- 
cation, I put this work aside and took 
up The Philosophy of Civilization. 

While waiting for The Philosophy of 
Civilization manuscript from Africa, I 
busied myself with studying the great 
world religions and their conception of 

Physician and Preacher in Strasbourg 183 

the world. As I had examined philosophy in order to see 
how far it affirms ethical acceptance of the world as a major 
force in civilization, so now I sought to find out to what 
extent acceptance and rejection of the world and ethics are 
contained in Judaism and Christianity, in Islam, in the 
religion of Zarathustra, in Brahminism, Buddhism, and 
Hinduism, and in Chinese religious thought. 

In this investigation I found full confirmation of my view 
that civilization is based upon ethical acceptance of the 

The religions that expressly reject the world and life (Brah- 
minism and Buddhism) show no interest in civilization. 
While these pessimistic religions leave man to solitary con- 
templation, the Judaism of the prophetic period, the almost 
contemporary religion of Zarathustra, and the religious 
thought of the Chinese contain in their ethical acceptance 
of the world strong forces that stimulate civilization. They 
seek to improve social conditions and to call men to pur- 
poseful action in the service of common goals that ought to 
be realized. 

The Jewish prophets Amos and Isaiah (760-700 b.c.), 
Zarathustra (seventh century B.C.), and Cong-tse (560-480 
B.c.) mark the great turning point in the spiritual history 
of mankind. Between the eighth and sixth centuries B.c. 
thinkers from three nations, living in widely separated 
countries and having no relations whatever with one an- 
other, came at the same time to the conclusion that the 
ethical consists not in submission to traditional customs, 
but in the active devotion of the individual to his fellow 
men or to the improvement of social conditions. In this 
great revolution begins the spiritual progress of mankind 
and, with it, the highest potential for the development of 


Christianity and Hinduism are neither completely pos- 
itive nor negative in their attitude toward the world; both 
contain the two principles side by side yet in a state of 
tension with each other. In consequence they can both 
accept and reject civilization. 

Christianity has a negative attitude toward civilization 
because in the beginning it expected the world to end. For 
that reason it shows no interest in improving conditions in 
the natural world. But at the same time, as it contains an 
active ethic, it vigorously affirms civilization. 

In the ancient world, Christianity was a force destructive 
to civilization. It was partly responsible for the failure of 
later Stoicism to reform the world and develop ethical 
human values. The ethical views of the later Stoicism, as 
we know them from the writings of Epictetus and others, 
came very near to those of Jesus. The fact remains, how- 
ever, that Christianity was linked to a negative view of life. 

In modem times, under the influence of the Reforma- 
tion, the Renaissance, and the thinkers of the Enlighten- 
ment, Christianity changed its negative attitude toward the 
world. In primitive Christianity the expectation of the end 
of the world had not allowed the acceptance of the world. 
With the affirmation of life, Christianity changed into a 
religion that could work for, even create, civilization. As 
such a religion it joined in the struggle against ignorance, 
want of purpose, cruelty, and injustice, out of which in 
modem times a new world emerged. Only because the 
strong ethical energies of Christianity and of European phi- 
losophy joined forces in their desire for furtherance of the 
idea of affirmation of life, and because they put themselves 
at the service of society, could the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries develop the civilization of which we are 
the beneficiaries. 

Yet, as the negation of the world and life were rejected 
in the eighteenth century, certain tendencies evident in 
the Middle Ages and post-Middle Ages reappeared. Chris- 

Physician and Preacher in Strasbourg 185 

tianity ceased to be a creative force in civilization, as we 
have ample opportunity to see in our own times. 

In Hinduism affirmation never overcame the negative 
attitude toward life and the world. In India a break with 
the traditional pessimism never occurred like the one 
brought about by powerful thinkers in the Christianity of 
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. In 
spite of its ethical aspirations, Hinduism, therefore, was 
never in a position to accomplish in the Orient what Chris- 
tianity was able to do for civilization in the same period. 

Islam can be called a world religion only by virtue of its 
broad base. Spiritually it could not develop fully, because 
it was not based on any deep thought of the world or man- 
kind. If ever any such thought stirred within it, it was 
suppressed in order to maintain the authority of tradition. 
Nevertheless the Islam of today carries within it stronger 
tendencies toward mysticism and greater ethical depth than 
appears on the surface. 

While I was busy with these studies, a few days before 
Christmas, 1919, I received an invitation from Archbishop 
Nathan Soderblom to deliver some lectures after Easter for 
the Olaus-Petri Foundation at the University of Uppsala. 
The invitation came as a complete surprise. In my isolation 
at Strasbourg, ever since the war I had felt rather like a 
coin that has rolled under a piece of furniture and has been 
forgotten there. Only once — in October 1919 — had I been 
in touch with the outer world. With great difficulty I ob- 
tained a passport and visa and, scraping together every 
penny I could, I went to Barcelona to let my friends from 
the Orfeo Catald once more hear me play the organ. This 
first foray into the world allowed me to see that as an artist 
I was still appreciated. 


On the return journey from Tarascon to Lyons, I had as 
fellow passengers some sailors belonging to the cruiser Er- 
nest Renan. When I asked them what sort of man it was whose 
name they had on their caps, they answered: “We’ve never 
been told; it’s probably the name of some dead general.” 

In academic circles I could have believed myself entirely 
forgotten but for the affection and kindness of the theolo- 
gians at Zurich and Bern. 

For my lectures in Uppsala I chose as subject the problem 
of affirmation of the world and of ethics in philosophy and 
world religions. When I began work on the lectures I was 
still without my chapters from The Philosophy of Civili- 
zation that had been left behind in Africa, so I had to write 
them over again. At first I was very unhappy about this, 
but I later realized that this repetition was not unprofitable, 
and I became reconciled to my fate. It was not until the 
summer of 1920, after my return from Uppsala, that the 
manuscript from Africa at last reached me. 

In Uppsala for the first time I found an echo of the 
thoughts I had been carrying about with me for five years. 
In the last lecture, in which I developed the fundamental 
ideas of the principle of Reverence for Life, I was so moved 
that I found it difficult to speak. 

I came to Sweden a tired, depressed, and still ailing 
man — for in the summer of 1919 I had had to undergo a 
second operation. In the magnificent air of Uppsala and the 
kind atmosphere of the archbishop’s house, in which my 
wife and I were guests, I recovered my health and once 
more found joy in my work. 

But there still weighed on me the burden of the debts I 
had contracted with the Paris Missionary Society and Pa- 

Physician and Preacher in Strasbourg 187 

risian acquaintances to keep the hospital open during the 
war. While we were walking together, the archbishop 
learned of my worries and suggested I give organ recitals 
and lectures in Sweden, a country in which considerable 
wealth had accumulated during the war. He also gave me 
introductions in several cities. 

Elias Soderstrom, a student of theology (who died as a 
missionary a few years later), offered to be my traveling 
companion. Standing by me on the platform or in the pulpit 
he translated my lectures on the forest hospital, sentence 
by sentence, in such a lively way that in a few moments 
the audience had forgotten that they were listening to a 
translation. How fortunate that in the services at Lamba- 
rene I had acquired the art of speaking through an inter- 

The essential technique involves speaking in short, sim- 
ple, and clearly constructed sentences, very carefully going 
through the talk with the interpreter beforehand, and faith- 
fully following the version with which he is familiar. With 
this preparation the interpreter has to make no effort to 
understand the meaning of the sentence being translated; 
he catches it like a ball that he relays immediately to the 
listeners. By following this plan it is possible to deliver 
even scientific papers through an interpreter. It is much 
better than for the speaker to inflict on himself and his 
hearers the torture of speaking in a language he only knows 

Though they are not large, the wonderfully resonant old 
Swedish organs pleased me greatly. They were admirably 
adapted to my method of rendering Bach’s music. 

In the course of a few weeks I had earned through con- 
certs and lectures so much money that I could pay off the 
most pressing of my debts. 


When in the middle of July I left Sweden, where my 
experience had been so happy, I firmly made up my mind 
to resume my work at Lambarene. Until then I had not 
ventured to think of it, but had instead considered the idea 
of returning to a university career. Some hints before my 
departure for Sweden pointed to Switzerland as the country 
where this might be possible. In 1920 I was made an Hon- 
orable Doctor of Divinity by the theological faculty at Zu- 

The Book of African 

At home again I set to work at once 
writing down my recollections of Africa 
under the title Zwischen Wasser und 
Urtoald (On the Edge of the Primeval 
Forest). The Lindblad publishing 
house in Uppsala had commissioned 
me to write such a book, but it was not 
an easy task for they had restricted me 
to a given number of words. When I 
had finished I had to cut several thou- 
sand words, and that process was more 
difficult than writing the entire book. 
In the end, the complete chapter about 
the timber trade in the jungle would 
have had to have been dropped, but 



after my urgent pleas the publisher accepted the manu- 
script with this supplementary section still intact. 

That I was compelled to count words for that book was 
good for me. Since then I have disciplined myself — even 
in my Philosophy of Civilization — to achieve the greatest 
possible economy of expression. 

Z wischen Wasser und Urwald appeared in Swedish, 
translated by Baroness Greta Lagerfelt, in 1921. In the 
same year it came out in German (first in Switzerland), 
and then in English with the title On the Edge of the 
Primeval Forest , translated by my friend C. T. Campion. 
Later on it was published in Dutch, French, Danish, and 

It was illustrated mainly with photographs by Richard 
Classen of Hamburg. In 1914 he had been in Lambarene 
purchasing lumber, and later I supplied him with medicines 
when he was a prisoner of war. 

To give an account of my activity in a West African pri- 
meval forest gave me a chance to express views on the 
difficult problems among primitive people caused by col- 

Have we whites the right to impose our rule on primitive 
and semiprimitive peoples? My answer to this question is 
based only on my own experience before and after World 
War I. No, if we want only to rule and draw material ad- 
vantage from their country. Yes, if we seriously desire to 
educate them and help them to attain a state of well-being. 
If there was any possibility that these peoples could live 
by and for themselves, we should leave them to themselves. 
It is, however, a fact that world trade has penetrated these 
areas to such an extent that the clock cannot be turned 

The Book of African Reminiscences 191 

back. Through world trade they have lost their freedom. 
The economic and social conditions under which the African 
people once lived have been destroyed. An inevitable result 
has been that the chiefs, using the weapons and money l 
that commerce has placed at their disposal, have reduced | 
most of their people to servitude and turned them into 1 
slaves who must work for the benefit of a small minority j 
controlling the export trade. * 

Sometimes, as in the days of the slave trade, the people 
themselves have become merchandise to be exchanged for 
money, lead, gunpowder, tobacco, and brandy. 

That many among those who took possession of colonial 
territories committed injustice, violence, and cruelty is only 
too true, and this puts a heavy burden of responsibility on 
us. And still today the harm we inflict on the Africans should 
not be passed over in silence or concealed. To grant in- ^ 
dependence to the native peoples in our colonies now 
would inevitably lead to exploitation by their own coun- 
trymen and would in no way make up for our failures. 

Our only possible course is to exercise the power we 
have for the benefit of the native people and thus justify 
morally what we do. Even colonization can allege some acts 
of moral value. It has put an end to the slave trade; it has 
stopped the perpetual wars that the African peoples for- 
merly waged with one another, and it has thus established 
a lasting peace in large portions of the world. It endeavors 
in many ways to produce in the colonies conditions that 
render more difficult the exploitation of the population by 
world trade. I dare not picture what the lot of the native 
lumbermen in the forests of the Ogowe district would be 
if the government authorities, who at the present time 
protect their rights against the merchants, both white and 
black, were withdrawn. 

The tragic fact is that the interests of colonization and those 
of civilization do not necessarily run parallel, but are often 


in direct opposition to each other. It would be best if 
primitive people were to withdraw as much as possible from 
world commerce. Then under judicious administration they 
could gradually move from a nomadic or seminomadic life 
to a settled existence as farmers and artisans. That, how- 
ever, is impossible because the people themselves refuse 
to walk away from the chance of earning money by selling 
goods on the world market, just as world trade is not likely 
to refrain from purchasing raw materials from them in ex- 
change for manufactured goods. Thus it becomes very dif- 
ficult to pursue a program of colonization that would lead 
toward a real civilization. These people could achieve true 
wealth if they could develop their agriculture and trade to 
meet their own needs. Instead they are only interested in 
producing what the world market requires, and for which 
it pays well. With the money thus obtained they procure 
from it manufactured goods and processed food, thereby 
making home industry unnecessary, and often even en- 
dangering the stability of their own agriculture. This is the 
condition in which all primitive and semiprimitive peoples 
who can offer to world trade rice, cotton, coffee, cocoa, 

_ minerals, timber, and other products find themselves. 

Whenever the timber trade is good, famine reigns in the 
Ogowe region, because the villagers abandon their farms 
to fell as many trees as possible. In the swamps and the 
forest in which they find this work they live on imported 
rice and iinported processed foods, which they purchase 
with the proceeds of their labor. 

Civilized colonization must make an effort to avoid 
employing anyone for the export trade whose labor is 
needed in the domestic market, especially in agriculture. 
The sparser the population of a colony, the more diffi- 
cult it is to reconcile the healthy development of the area 
with the interests of world trade. An increasing export 
trade does not always prove that a colony is making 

The Book of African Reminiscences 193 

progress; it can as easily mean that it is on its way to ruin. 

Road and railway construction also creates a difficult 
problem among local populations. Roads and railways are 
necessary to end the horrible custom of portage, to bring 
food to regions threatened by famine, and to develop the 
trade of the country. At the same time there is a danger 
that they may imperil the prosperity of the country. They 
do so when they demand more labor than the country can 
normally accommodate. Account must be taken, too, of the 
fact that colonial road and railway construction involves 
great loss of human life, even when — and this is unfortu- 
nately not always the case — the best possible provision is 
made for the lodging and board of the laborers. It can also 
happen that the district the road or the railway was meant 
to serve is instead ruined by it. The opening up of any 
region must therefore be embarked upon with the greatest 
care. Whatever the plan projected, it must be implemented 
gradually, perhaps even with interruptions so the project 
can be reviewed. Experience has shown that in this way 
many lives can be saved. 

In the interests of developing the country it may become 
necessary to transplant remote villages nearer to the railway 
or the road. But only when no other course is possible 
should there be interference of this kind, or with any of 
the human rights of the local people. 

How much disaffection is caused again and again in the 
colonies by regulations issued by some official who wants 
to draw attention to himself! With regard to the much 
debated issue of forced labor, I feel strongly that the Af- 
ricans should under no circumstances be forced by the 
authorities to work, whether for a short or longer period, 
whether for private enterprise or as compensation for taxes. 
People should only be asked to perform tasks that are in 
the public interest, and this should be supervised by state 
officials. We should never force the African to work by de- 


manding ever-increasing taxes. He will, of course, have to 
work in order to pay taxes, but hidden forced labor will no 
more change him from an idle into an industrious man than 
open demands. Injustice cannot produce a moral result. 

In every colony in the world today the taxes are already 
so high that they can be paid by the population only with 
difficulty. Without much thought, colonies everywhere 
have been burdened with loans the interest on which can 
hardly be raised. 

The problems of educating people are related to eco- 
nomic and social problems and are no less complicated. 
Farming and crafts are the foundations of civilization. Only 
where that foundation exists can a portion of the population 
engage in commercial and intellectual professions. 

It is the misfortune of all colonies — and not only of those 
\ with primitive or semiprimitive populations — that those 
\ who go through the schools are then for the most part lost 
|to agriculture and crafts. Instead of contributing to the 
.development of both, the change of status has led to un- 
/ Wealthy economic and social conditions. Constructive col- 
/ onization means educating the local people in such a way 
I that they are not alienated from agriculture and crafts but 
\ attracted to them. Intellectual learning should be accom- 
panied in every colonial school by the acquisition of every 
kind of manual skill. For their civilization it is important 
that the Africans learn to bake bricks, to build, to saw logs 
into planks, to be ready with hammer, plane, and chisel. 

But the most important thing of all is that we stop the 
annihilation of the primitive and semiprimitive peoples. 
Their existence is threatened by alcohol, which commerce 
provides, by diseases we have taken to them, and by dis- 
eases that had already existed among them but which, like 
sleeping sickness, were first spread by the traffic that col- 
onization brought with it. Today that disease is a peril to 

The harm that the importation of alcohol brings to these 

The Book of African Reminiscences 195 

people cannot be remedied by forbidding brandy and rum 
while allowing wine and beer as before. In the colonies 
wine and beer are much more dangerous beverages than 
in Europe, because, to preserve them in tropical and sub- 
tropical regions, pure alcohol is always added. The absence 
of brandy and rum is amply made up for by an enormously 
increased consumption of this fortified wine and beer. The 
only way to prevent the damage that alcohol brings to these 
people is to completely prohibit all alcoholic beverages. 

In nearly all colonies the struggle against disease has been 
undertaken with too little energy and was begun too late. 
The need to bring medical help to the people in our colonies 
is frequently argued on the ground that it is worthwhile to 
preserve the “human resource” without which the colonies 
would lose their value. In reality, however, the issue is 
quite different. It is unthinkable that we civilized peoples 
should keep for ourselves alone those means for fighting 
sickness, pain, and death that science has given us. If there 
is any ethical thinking at all among us, how can we refuse 
to let these new discoveries benefit those in distant lands 
who are subject to even greater physical distress than we 
are? In addition to the physicians who are sent out by the 
governments, and of whom there are never enough to ac- 
complish a fraction of what needs doing, other doctors must 
go out to the colonies as a humane duty mandated by the 
conscience of society. Whoever among us has learned 
through personal experience what pain and anxiety really 
are must help to ensure that those out there who are in 
physical need obtain the same help that once came to him. 
He no longer belongs to himself alone; he has become the 
brother of all who suffer. It is this “brotherhood of those 
who bear the mark of pain” that demands humane medical 
services for the colonies. Commissioned by their represen- 
tatives, medical people must do for the suffering in far-off 
lands what cries out to be done in the name of true civi- 


It was because I relied on the elementary truth embodied 
in this idea, the “brotherhood of those who bear the mark 
of pain,” that I ventured to found the forest hospital at 

Finally, I must insist that whatever benefit we confer 
upon the peoples of our colonies is not charity, but atone- 
ment for the terrible sufferings we white people have in- 
flicted upon them ever since the day our first ship found 
its way to their shores. The colonial problems that exist 
today cannot be solved by political measures alone. A new 
element must be introduced; white and black must meet 
in an atmosphere infused with an ethical spirit. Only then 
will communication be possible. 

Giinsbach and 
Journeys Abroad 

On the Sunday before Palm Sunday in 
1921, I had the pleasure of playing the 
organ at the premiere of Bach’s St. 
Matthew Passion at the Orfe6 CataK 
in Barcelona — the very first time this 
work was performed in Spain. 

In April 1921, I resigned my two 
posts at Strasbourg, hoping that I 
could live in the future by my pen 
and my organ recitals. In order to work 
in peace on The Philosophy of Civili- 
zation I moved with my wife and 
child — a daughter bom to us on Jan- 
uary 14, my own birthday, in 1919 — 
to my father’s vicarage at Giinsbach. 



For a pied-i-terre in Strasbourg, where I often had to 
spend considerable periods of time using the library, I 
had an attic room at the home of Pastor Dietz-Harter’s 
widow, who lived in an old house in the rue d’ail (Garlic 

My work was often interrupted by travel. Various uni- 
versities invited me to give lectures on the philosophy of 
civilization or on the problems of primitive Christianity. 
Through lectures about the hospital at Lambarene I raised 
funds for its continuation. With organ recitals I was able to 
secure my own and my family’s future after I returned to 

In the autumn of 1921 1 was in Switzerland, and from there 
I went in November to Sweden. At the end of January I 
left Sweden for Oxford to deliver the Dale Memorial Lec- 
tures at Mansfield College. After that I lectured at Selly 
Oak College in Birmingham (on “Christianity and the Re- 
ligions of the World”), at Cambridge (on “The Significance 
of Eschatology”), and in London to the Society for the Study 
of Religion (on “The Pauline Problem”). I also gave a num- 
ber of organ recitals in England. 

In the middle of March 1922, I returned to Sweden from 
England to give more concerts and lectures. No sooner was 
I home than I set forth again for weeks to give lectures and 
concerts in Switzerland. 

In the summer of 1922 I was allowed to work on The 
Philosophy of Civilization undisturbed. In the autumn I 
went again to Switzerland, and after that I gave some 
lectures on ethics at Copenhagen at the invitation of 
the university’s department of theology. These were fol- 

Gunsbach and Journeys Abroad 199 

lowed by organ recitals and lectures in various towns of 

In January 1923, I lectured on the philosophy of civili- 
zation at Prague, at the invitation of Professor Oscar Kraus. 
I thus began a warm friendship with that loyal pupil of 

How wonderful were the experiences of these years! When 
I first went to Africa I prepared to make three sacrifices: 
to abandon the organ; to renounce academic teaching ac- 
tivities, to which I had become quite attached; and to lose 
my financial independence and rely for the rest of my life 
on the help of friends. 

I had begun to make these three sacrifices, and only my 
intimate friends knew what they cost me. But then it hap- 
pened to me what happened to Abraham when he prepared 
to sacrifice his son. Like him, I was spared the sacrifice. 
Thanks to my good health and thanks to the piano with the 
attached pedals that the Bach Society of Paris had given 
me as a present, I had been able to maintain my organ 
technique in the tropical climate. During the many peaceful 
hours I was able to spend with Bach during my four and a 
half years in the jungle I had penetrated deeper into the 
spirit of his works. I returned to Europe, therefore, not as 
an artist who had become an amateur, but in full possession 
of my technique. 

For the renunciation of my teaching activities at the Uni- 
versity of Strasbourg I found compensation in opportunities 
for lecturing at many other universities. So if I did for a 
time lose my financial independence, I was now able to 
win it back again with the organ and my books. The fact 


that I was spared the triple sacrifice that I had already made 
sustained me through all the difficulties the postwar years 
brought to me and to so many others. I was prepared to 
face hard work and renunciation. 

In the spring of 1923 the first two volumes of The Philosophy 
of Civilization were completed, and they were published 
that same year. The first bears the title Verfall und Wie- 
deraufbau der Kultur ( The Decay and Restoration of Civ- 
ilization) and the second Kultur und Ethik ( Civilization and 

Tim term SJaui ml and ethical are basica lly synonymous. 
They define whatever conforms to establishe d custom. 
Moral derives from the Latin and ethic from the Greek. In 
general use the term morals relates to moral precepts and 
conduct, while ethics comprises the science of morals and 
scholarship on notions of the Good. 

In the book on The Decay and Restoration of Civilization 
I describe the relationship between civilization and world- 

I show that the philosophy of the nineteenth century is 
responsible for the decline of civilization. It did not know 
how to keep alive the concern for civilization that existed 
in the period of the Enlightenment. It should have contin- 
ued the unfinished work of the eighteenth century and 
explained the natural, fundamental bond between ethics 
and our concept of the world. Instead the nineteenth cen- 
tury lost itself in the nonessential. It abandoned man’s nat- 
ural quest for a concept of the world, and instead developed 
the science of the history of philosophy. It developed a 

Gunsbach and Journeys Abroad 201 

worldview based on history and the natural sciences. This 
view was, however, without vigor and incapable of sus- 
taining a strong civilization. 

Just at the time when the philosophy of civilization lost 
its power, it was threatened by another danger. The ma- 
chine age created living conditions that made it difficult for 
civilization to progress. And because men had no ethical 
concept of the world, civilization declined. 

Overburdened with work, modern man has lost his ability 
to concentrate, has lost his spirituality in all spheres. 
The false interpretation of events in history and real life 
leads to a nationalism in which humanitarian ideals have 
no place. Our thoughts must, therefore, be directed toward 
a concept of the world that is inspired by the ideals of 
true civilization. If we begin to reflect at all on ethics 
and our spiritual relationship to the universe, we are al- 
ready on the road leading back from the uncivilized to 

Civilization I define in quite general terms as spiritual and , 
material progress in all spheres of life, accompanied by the j 
ethical development of individuals and of mankind. / 

In my book Civilization and Ethics, I describe the tragic 
struggle of European thought to attain an ethical concept 
of the world and life. I would have liked to include the 
struggle toward a philosophy of civilization as it has de- 
veloped in the world religions. But I had to abandon this 
plan because it would have made the book too long. I 
therefore limited myself to a few brief allusions to the sub- 


I intentionally avoided technical philosophical terminol- 
ogy. I wanted to appeal to thinking men and women and 
to provoke them into basic thought about the questions of 
existence that are in the minds of every human being. 

What is it that takes place in the vain struggle toward a 
deep ethical affirmation of life and the world? Socrates made 
a great effort to represent the -ethical as the reasonable and 
to understand the world and life affirmation as having some 
meaning. But by an inexorable logic this led to resignation. V r 
The ideal of Stoic philosophy is the wise man who retires 
from this world. 

It is only in the later Stoicism of Marcus Aurelius, Ep- 
ictetus, Seneca, and others that a confident ethical concept 
develops that imposes on the individual the duty to work 
in the world to create better material and spiritual condi- 
tions and to cultivate humanitarian ideals. 

This late Stoic view of the world is to a certain extent 
the forerunner of what in the eighteenth century was ac- 
cepted as “conforming to reason.” When it first appears 
on the stage of history it does not yet have the strength 
to establish its position or to release its reforming pow- 
ers. It is true the great Stoic rulers are devoted to it, 
and under its influence they attempt to arrest the deca- 
dence of the ancient world, which began in late antiquity. 
Their vision, however, never gained any influence over 
the masses. 

How do the late Stoicism and the rationalism of the eigh- 
teenth century lead to an ethical affirmation of the world? 

Not by accepting the world as it is, but by conceiving the 
course of world events as the expression of a rational, ethical 
world will. The world-accepting ethical will of man inter- 
prets the forces that are active in the course of history 

Giinsbach and Journeys Abroad 203 

according to his own common sense. Instead of offering an 
objective concept of the world, this attitude projects ethical 

This process is repeated wherever philosophy comes to 
an ethical acceptance of the world. It deduces this principle 
from an interpretation of the course of world history that 
seeks to make this course intelligible, as having meaning 
and being in some way or other directed to ethical ends. 
Humans, through their own ethical actions, can now serve 
the overall purpose of the universe. 

In Cong-tse and Zarathustra the ethical affirmation of life 
is supported by a worldview founded on the same hypoth- 

Kant, Fichte, Hegel, and the other great thinkers of 
speculative philosophy were not satisfied with the simple 
and naive theories of moral rationalism of the eighteenth 
century. They arrived at their conclusions through more 
complicated operations of thought. They stated that the 
ethical affirmative view of life can only be reached through 
a correct theory of knowledge, or the logical comprehension 
of the original “Being” within the context of wpyld evenjs 
in space and time. NjjV o Uqiuanr 

In the artificial complexity of the great systems, the ed- 
ucated minds of the early nineteenth century assumed that 
they had proof that the ethic of life affirmation was the 
logical result of rational thought. Their joy, however, was 
of short duration. Around the middle of the century these 
logical castles in the air crumbled and collapsed under the 
pressure of a realistic and scie ntific method of thinking. A 
period of severe disenchantment set in. Reason gave up all 
its attempts to make this world comprehensible either by 
manipulation or by force. It was ready to resign itself and 
come to terms with reality as it is, drawing from it motives 
for action that are consonant with an ethical acceptance of 
the world. But it soon learned from experience that reality 


refuses to provide what is expected of it. Reason alone 
I cannot provide an interpretation of the world that assigns 
la course of ethical action for man. 

Reason could not immediately understand its limita- 
tions. It was, however, evident that from that moment on 
the old ethical ideals had lost their vitality. Any attempt 
that reason might have made to restore the old positions 
through rational interpretation of the world were doomed 
to fail. 

The philosophy of Reverence for Life takes the world as 
it is. And the world means the horrible in the glorious, the 
meaningless in the fullness of meaning, the sorrowful in 
the joyful. Whatever our own point of view the world will 
remain for us an enigma. 

But that does not mean that we need stand before 
the problem of life at our wits’ end, because we have to 
renounce all hope of seeing the course of world events as 
having any meaning. Reverence for Life leads us into 
a spiritual relationship with the world independent of 
a full understanding of the universe. Through the dark 
valley of resignation it takes us by an inward necessity 
up to the shining heights of ethical acceptance of the 

We are no longer obliged to derive our ethical world- 
view from knowledge of the universe. In the principle of 
Reverence for Life we possess a concept of the world 
founded on itself. It renews itself in us every time we re- 
flect thoughtfully about ourselves and our relation to life 
around us. It is not through knowledge, but through ex- 
perience of the world that we are brought into relationship 
with it. 

All thinking that penetrates to the bottom arrives at 
ethical mysticism. What is rational reaches eventually the 
nonrational. The ethical mysticism of Reverence for Life is 
rational thought that derives its power from the spiritual 
nature of our being. 

Cunsbach and Journeys Abroad 205 

While I was still correcting the proofs of Civilization and 
Ethics, I had already begun packing the cases for my second 
voyage to Africa. 

In the autumn of 1923 the printing was interrupted for 
a time because the print shop belonging to the publisher 
of the German edition, which was located in Nordlingen 
(Bavaria), was requisitioned by the state to help in the 
production of the paper money needed during the inflation. 

That I was able to take up my work in the jungle again 
I owed to friends in Alsace, Switzerland, Sweden, Den- 
mark, England, and Czechoslovakia, who had decided to 
help me financially after they had heard my lectures. 

Before leaving for Africa I also prepared for publication 
the lectures I had delivered at Selly Oak College in Bir- 
mingham on “Christianity and the Religions of the World.” 
In the lectures I try to define the nature of religions from 
the philosophic standpoint and to analyze the role that the 
affirmation as well as the negation of life and ethics play in 

Unfortunately I did not have enough time to synthesize 
my research on world religions, and I therefore had to 
publish the lectures just as I had delivered them. 

In the haste of packing, I also quietly wrote my childhood 
recollections owing to a visit to my friend Dr. O. Pfister, 
the well-known Zurich psychoanalyst. Early in the summer 
of 1923, while traveling across Switzerland from west to 
east, I had a two-hour wait in Zurich and went to visit him. 
He offered me refreshment and gave me an opportunity to 
stretch out and rest. Then he asked me to narrate some 
incidents of my childhood just as they came into my mind. 
He wanted to use them for a young people s magazine. 
Soon afterward he sent me a copy of what he had taken 


down in shorthand during those two hours. I asked him 
not to publish it, but to leave it to me to complete. Then, 
one Sunday afternoon shortly before my departure for Af- 
rica, when it was alternately raining and snowing, I wrote, 
as an epilogue to what I had told him, some thoughts about 
what used to stir me when I looked back upon my youth. 
This manuscript was published under the title Aus meiner 
Kindheit und Jugendzeit ( Memoirs of Childhood and 

The Second Period in 
Africa, 1924-1927 

On February 14, 1924, I left Stras- 
bourg. My wife could not go with me 
this time because of her poor health. 
I have never ceased to be grateful to 
her that, under these circumstances, 
she made the sacrifice of consenting to 
my resuming work at Lambarene. I 
was accompanied by Noel Gillespie, a 
young Oxford student of chemistry. 
His mother had entrusted him to me 
for a few months as a helper. 

When we embarked at Bordeaux I 
came under the suspicions of the cus- 
toms officer who was inspecting trav- 
elers’ baggage. I had with me four 



potato sacks full of unanswered letters, which I meant to 
answer during the voyage. He had never encountered a 
traveler with so many letters, and because at that time the 
transfer of French money to other countries was strictly 
forbidden — a traveler was only allowed to take five thou- 
sand francs with him — he could not help but suspect that 
money was hidden among those letters. He therefore spent 
an hour and a half examining them, one by one, until, at 
the bottom of the second sack, he gave up, shaking his 

After a long voyage on the Dutch cargo boat Orestes , 
which gave me an opportunity to get to know the places 
along the west coast, we arrived at Lambaren6 at dawn on 
Saturday, April 19, the day before Easter. 

All that still remained of the hospital were the small 
building of corrugated iron and the hardwood skeleton 
of one of the big bamboo huts. During the seven years 
of my absence all the other buildings had decayed and 
collapsed. The path leading from the hospital to the doc- 
tor’s bungalow on the hill was so completely overgrown 
with grass and creepers that I could scarcely trace its 

The first job, then, was to make the minimal necessary 
repairs on the rotten and leaky roofs of the bungalow and 
the two hospital buildings that were still standing. Next 
I reerected the fallen buildings, a job that took me sev- 
eral months. This work was so exhausting that I was quite 
unable to give my evenings to working over the manuscript 
of The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, begun in 1911, 
as I had planned. I had brought it for the second time to 

My life during those months was lived as a doctor in 

The Second Period in Africa, 1924—1927 209 

the mornings and as a master builder in the afternoons. 
Just as during my previous stay, there were unfortunately 
no laborers, since the timber trade was flourishing again 
after the war and absorbed all the labor that was to be 

I had therefore to accept as my helpers a few “volunteers” 
who were in the hospital as companions of the patients or 
as convalescents. But they worked without enthusiasm and, 
indeed, tended to disappear and hide themselves on the 
days when they were wanted. 

One day during this first period of my second sojourn in 
Africa, an older timber merchant, who was already some- 
what Africanized, was passing through and joined us for 
lunch. When he got up from the table he thought that he 
owed me a gracious remark, so he said: “Doctor, I know 
that you play the harmonium very well. I also love music, 
and if I did not have to hurry in order to avoid the tornado 
that is coming, I would ask you to play me one of Goethe’s 

The number of patients kept steadily increasing, so in 
both 1924 and 1925 I sent for two doctors and two nurses 
from Europe. 

At last, in the autumn of 1925, the hospital was rebuilt, 
and I was enjoying the prospect of being able to devote my 
evenings to the work on St. Paul. Then a severe famine 
began. The men who cut wood for the timber trade all over 
the country had neglected the cultivation of their fields. At 
the same time a terrible epidemic of dysentery broke out. 
These two occurrences fully occupied me and my helpers 
for many months. We had to make numerous journeys in 
our two motorboats, the Tak sa mycket and the Raarup 
(one of them a present from Swedish, the other from Jutland 


friends), to collect rice wherever we could when nothing 
else was available to feed our patients. 

The dysentery epidemic made clear to me the necessity 
of relocating the hospital to a larger site. It could not 
spread out over land belonging to the mission because 
all that was at my disposal was shut in by water, swamp, 
or steep hills. The buildings that could be erected there 
would have been sufficient for 50 patients and those who 
accompanied them, but not for the 150 whom we now had 
to accommodate every night. I had, indeed, already be- 
come conscious of this need during the rebuilding, but 
I had hoped that the huge number of patients was only 

Now the dysentery epidemic revealed to me another 
danger that threatened the hospital, because I had no iso- 
lation ward for infectious diseases. Because we could not 
keep the dysentery patients separated from the rest, the 
contagious disease spread throughout the hospital. 

We lived through terrible moments! 

Another serious inconvenience was the lack of a proper 
place to house mental patients. I often found myself in the 
position of being unable to take in dangerous lunatics, be- 
cause our only two cells were already occupied. 

So with a heavy heart I reluctantly made the decision to 
remove the hospital to a location three kilometers (nearly 
two miles) up the river where it could be expanded as much 
as was necessary. My confidence in the supporters of my 
work allowed me to dare take advantage of the move to 
replace the old bamboo huts with corrugated-iron build- 
ings; their raffia-leaf roofs were in constant need of repair. 

The Second Period in Africa, 1924-1927 211 

For protecting the hospital against river floods and from 
the torrents that washed down from the hills after heavy 
storms, I became a modern prehistoric man and erected it 
as a village of corrugated iron on piles. 

The professional work in the hospital I left almost entirely 
to my colleagues, Dr. Nessmann (an Alsatian), Dr. Lau- 
terburg (a Swiss), and Dr. Trensz (an Alsatian who came 
to relieve Dr. Nessmann). I myself for a year and a half 
became overseer of the laborers who cut down the trees 
on the chosen site and worked on the buildings. 

I had to assume this function because of the ever- 
changing squad of “volunteers” recruited from among the 
companions of the patients as well as convalescents well 
enough to work. They would acknowledge no authority save 
that of the “old” Doctor. While I was foreman of a troop 
of workmen hewing down trees, the news reached me that 
the philosophy faculty of the University of Prague had con- 
ferred on me an honorary doctoral degree. 

As soon as the building site had been cleared, I started 
preparing the land near it for cultivation. What a joy it was 
to win fields from the jungle! 

Year after year since then, work has been carried on with 
the object of producing a Garden of Eden around the hos- 
pital. Hundreds of young fruit trees, which we have grown 
from seed, have already been planted. Someday there will 
be so much fruit growing here that all can take what they 
want, and there will be no need to steal. We have already 
reached this stage with the papaya, the mango, and the oil 
palms. The papayas now produce more fruit than the hos- 
pital needs. There were so many mangoes and oil palms in 
the woods already that, once we cut down the other trees, 
they formed regular groves. As soon as they were freed 


from the creepers that were strangling them and from the 
giant trees that overshadowed them, they at once began to 
bear fruit. 

These fruit trees were, of course, not part of the virgin 
forest. The mangoes had made their way into the forest 
from the villages that once stood along the riverbank; the 
, oil palms had sprung up from kernels that the parrots had 
carried off from the trees near the villages and then had 
dropped. The jungle of equatorial Africa contains no indig- 
enous trees with edible fruits. The traveler whose supplies 
at ygive out during his journey is doomed to starvation. It is 
well known that the clumps of banana and manioc, the oil 
palms, the mango trees, and much of the other vegetation 
that supplies edible food are not indigenous to equatorial 
Africa, but were introduced by Europeans from the West 
Indian islands and other tropical countries. 

Unfortunately fruit cannot be stored here on account 
of the dampness and the heat. As soon as it is picked it 
begins to rot. For the large number of plantains required 
for feeding the patients I still have to resort to supplies 
from the neighboring villages. The bananas, which I grow 
with paid labor, cost me in fact much more than those 
the Africans sell me from their own plantations located 
conveniently near the river. The Africans, however, have 
scarcely any fruit trees because they do not live perma- 
nently in one place, but constantly move their villages to 
some new site. 

Since even bananas cannot be stored, I have also had to 
keep a considerable stock of rice on hand in case there are 
not enough bearing banana trees in the neighborhood. 

The fact that I did not at once begin building a new 
hospital, but instead rebuilt the old one, was by no means 
a misfortune. It enabled us to accumulate experience that 

The Second Period in Africa, 1924-1927 213 

was now very useful. We had only one native worker who 
stayed with us all through the rebuilding, a carpenter 
named Monenzali. Without him I could not have carried 
out the undertaking. During the last few months I had also 
the help of a young carpenter from Switzerland. 

My plan to return to Europe at the end of two years 
could not be realized. I had to stay in Africa for three and 
a half. In the evenings I found myself so exhausted from 
the continual running around in the sun that I could not 
write. My remaining energy lasted for nothing beyond reg- 
ular practice on my piano with its pedal attachment. The 
Mysticism of Paul the Apostle therefore remained unfin- 

This second period of activity in Africa is described in 
the newsletter Mitteilungen aus Lambarene. They contain 
sketches written at intervals for the information of friends 
of the hospital. 

During my absence the work that had to be done to support 
the hospital was in the hands of Reverend Hans Bauer, 
D.D., at Basel, and my brother-in-law, Reverend Albert 
Woytt at Oberhausbergen, near Strasbourg. 

Since 1919 Mme Emmy Martin at Strasbourg had also 
been closely associated with our work. In 1929 she cen- 
tralized everything concerning Lambaren6 and my other 
activities in the new house at Giinsbach. Without her un- 
tiring help and that of other friends, the undertaking, now 
so much expanded, could not have continued. 

Some of the new buildings were finished, and on January 
21, 1927, the patients could be transferred from the old to 


the new hospital. On the evening of the last journey we 
made, I took the mental patients with me. Their guardians 
never tired of telling them that in the new hospital they 
would live in cells with wood floors. In the old cells the 
floor had been just the damp earth. 

When I made my tour of the hospital that evening, there 
resounded from every fire and every mosquito net the 
greeting “It’s a good hut, Doctor, a very good hut!” So now 
for the first time since I began to work in Africa my patients 
were housed as human beings should be. 

In April 1927, I was able to hand over the supervision 
of the workers engaged in the clearing of the woods around 
the hospital to Mrs. C. E. B. Russell. She had just arrived 
from England, and she had a talent for getting the men to 
follow her orders. Under her leadership a beginning was 
also made in laying out a plantation. Since then I have 
noticed that on the whole the authority of a white woman 
is more readily recognized by the Africans than that of us 

Around the middle of the summer in the same year I 
completed several additional wards. Now I was in posses- 
sion of a hospital in which, if need be, we could accom- 
modate 200 patients and those who accompanied them. In 
recent months the number has been between 140 and 160. 
Provision was also made for the isolation of dysentery pa- 
tients. The building for the mental patients was erected 
from a fund established by the Guildhouse congregation in 
London in memory of a deceased member, Mr. Ambrose 

Finally, after the essential interior installations were 
completed, I could depart for Europe and leave the re- 
sponsibility for the hospital to my colleagues. On July 21 I 

The Second Period in Africa, 1924—1927 215 

left Lambarene. Miss Mathilde Kottmann, who had worked 
at the hospital since 1924, and the sister of Dr. Lauterburg 
traveled with me. Miss Emma Hausknecht remained at 
Lambarene, and several other nurses soon joined her to 
assist her in her work. 

The hospital could never have existed without the assis- 
tance of the volunteers who have given of themselves so 

Two Years in Europe. 
The Mysticism of 
Paul the Apostle 

Of the two years I spent in Europe a 
good part was taken up with traveling 
to give lectures and organ recitals. The 
autumn and winter of 1927 I spent in 
Sweden and Denmark. In the spring 
and early summer of 1928 1 was in Hol- 
land and England; in the autumn and 
winter in Switzerland, Germany, and 
Czechoslovakia. In 1929 I undertook 
several recital tours in Germany. 
When not traveling, I lived with my 
wife and daughter at the mountain 
health resort of Konigsfeld in the Black 
Forest, or at Strasbourg. 

I had many worries due to the rel- 

Two Years in Europe 217 

atively frequent need to replace doctors and nurses in Lam- 
barene. Some could not tolerate the climate; others had 
family obligations that forced them to return to Europe 
sooner than they had intended. I recruited several new 
people, Dr. Miindler, Dr. Hediger, Dr. Stalder, and Dr. 
Schnabel, all from Switzerland. We were all much sad- 
dened by the death of a Swiss doctor, Dr. Eric Dolken 
who, in October 1929 on the voyage to Lambarene, died 
suddenly in the harbor of Grand Bassam, probably from a 
heart attack. 

I dedicated all my spare time in Europe to the completion 
of my book on The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. I did not 
wish to take the manuscript with me to Africa a third time, 
and I soon found myself once more at home with the subject 
matter. Slowly the manuscript developed, chapter by chap- 

Paul’s mysticism of being-in-Christ finds its explanation in 
the conception the Apostle has of the coming of the Mes- 
sianic Kingdom and of the end of the world. On the strength 
of the views that he, like his fellow believers in those ear- 
liest days, had taken over from Judaism, he supposes that 
those who believe in Jesus as the coming Messiah will live 
with Him in the Messianic Kingdom in a supernatural ex- 
istence, while their unbelieving contemporaries and the 
people of previous generations ever since the Creation must 
remain for some time in the grave. It is only at the close 
of the Messianic Kingdom, which, though supernatural, is 
nevertheless conceived as transitory, that, in accordance 
with the late Jewish view, the General Resurrection takes 
place and is followed by the Last Judgment. Not until then 
does Eternity begin, in which God “is all in all,” that is, 
all things return to God. 


Paul explains that those who see in Jesus the Messiah 
and who ascend to the Messianic Kingdom — in this way 
experiencing the resurrection before other human beings — 
are thus privileged because they have lived in fellowship 
with Jesus. Their faith in Him makes plain that God has 
chosen them to be the companions of the Messiah. By virtue 
of this union with Jesus, which is both mystical and natural, 
the forces that led Him to choose His death and His res- 
urrection begin to work in them. 

These believers cease to be natural men like others. They 
become beings who are in the process of changing from a 
natural to a supernatural condition. Their human appear- 
ance is only a kind of veil, which they will throw off when 
the Messianic Kingdom comes to pass. In a mysterious way 
they are already dead and have risen with Christ and in 
Him, and will soon share with Him the existence that fol- 
lows His resurrection. 

The mysticism involved in “being-in-Christ” and of 
having “died and risen with Christ” is extended in the 
eschatological expectation. The belief in the imminent 
manifestation of the Kingdom leads, in Paul’s thought, to 
a conviction that, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, 
the change of the natural into the supernatural has already 
begun. We therefore deal with a mysticism that is based 
on the assumption of a great cosmic event. 

Because Paul understood the significance of this union 
with Christ, he wanted to put the ethic of this union into 
practice. In Judaism believers had only to obey the Law, 
since that is valid for natural men. For the same reason it 
must not be imposed on heathen who have come to believe 
in Christ. Whoever enters into union with Christ discerns 
what is ethical directly from the spirit of Christ in which 
he shares. 

For other believers inspired words and ecstasy are the 
surest proof of the living spirit, but Paul turns the doctrine 
of the spirit to ethics. According to him the spirit that 

Two Years in Europe 219 

believers possess is the spirit of Jesus, in which they have 
become participants because of the mysterious fellowship 
with Him that they enjoy. This spirit of Jesus is the divine 
force of life that prepares them for existence after the res- 
urrection. At the same time it is the power compelling 
believers, because they are different, to accept themselves 
as men who have ceased to belong to this world. The highest 
manifestation of the spirit is love. Love is eternal, and men 
can possess it here on earth. 

Thus in the eschatological mysticism of the fellowship 
with Christ, everything metaphysical has an ethical signif- 
icance. Paul establishes the supremacy of the ethical in 
religion for all time in the saying “And now abideth faith, 
hope, and love, these three, but the greatest of these is 
love.” He demonstrates this ethical view of what it is to be 
a Christian by his complete dedication to service. 

Paul interprets the saying of Jesus about bread and wine 
being His body and blood as being in accordance with his 
doctrine of the mystical fellowship with Christ. He explains 
the significance of the Last Supper by saying that those 
who eat and drink enter into communion with Jesus. Bap- 
tism, the beginning of redemption through Christ, is for 
him the beginning of dying and rising again with Christ. 
The doctrine of justification by faith, which has been ac- 
cepted for centuries as the essential element of Paul’s 
thought, is in reality a concept from the primitive doctrine 
of the atoning death of Jesus, inspired by the mystical com- 
munion with Jesus. 

In order to meet his Jewish-Christian opponents more 
successfully, Paul undertakes to formulate the belief in the 
atoning significance of the sacrifice of Jesus in such a way 
that this belief makes certain that the Law is no longer 
valid. He also rejects — in contrast to the Jewish Chris- 
tians — the significance of good works, emphasized by Jew- 
ish Law, because in his mysticism he demands ethical deeds 
as proof of fellowship with Christ. 


The doctrine of justification by faith created in order to 
combat Jewish Christianity has acquired great importance. 
Since that time those who rebelled against the concept of 
a Christianity justified by good works could appeal to the 
doctrine of the Apostle and win their case on his authority. 

On the other hand the artificial logic Paul uses in his 
attempt to represent this doctrine as contained in the Old 
Testament has given rise to an erroneous criticism of him. 
He is accused of being the man who invented a complicated 
dogma to replace the simple Gospel of Jesus. In reality, 
however, Paul, in spite of rabbinic elements that show up 
here and there in his argument, is a powerful thinker who 
arrives at elemental truths. 

He puts forward the simple Gospel of Jesus, not in the 
letter, but in the spirit. By raising the eschatological belief 
in Jesus and the Kingdom of God to the mysticism of fel- 
lowship with Christ, Paul has endowed it with a force that 
enables it to outlast the decline of the eschatological ex- 
pectation and to be recognized by and integrated into var- 
ious systems of thought as an ethical Christ-mysticism. In 
fact, he develops his eschatological faith to its last conse- 
quences, and he arrives at thoughts about our relation to 
Jesus that, because of their spiritual and ethical significance 
are definite and timeless, in spite of the fact that they 
originated from the metaphysics of eschatology. 

There is, then, no Greek element in Paul. He does, 
however, give the Christian faith a form that can be assim- 
ilated by the Greek spirit. Ignatius and Justin, in whose 
thought this process is completed, translate the mysticism 
of fellowship with Christ into Greek concepts. 

I wrote the last chapter of The Mysticism of Paul the 
Apostle in December 1929, on board ship between Bor- 
deaux and Cape Lopez. The introduction was written the 
day after Christmas on board the river steamer that took 

Two Years in Europe 221 

us — my wife and myself, Dr. Anna Schmitz, and Miss 
Marie Secretan, who came to work in the laboratory — to 

On this third arrival I unfortunately again found that 
construction work had to be done. During a serious epi- 
demic of dysentery, which was coming to an end just as I 
arrived, the wards of the unit had proved to be too small. 
As a result, the neighboring building for mental patients 
had to be turned over to those suffering from dysentery, 
and a new one had to be erected for the mental patients. 
Based on the experiences accumulated in the meantime, 
the new buildings were made stronger and at the same 
time lighter and more airy than the old ones. 

After that I had to build a large barrack with separate 
beds for severe cases, an airy and theft-proof storeroom for 
food supplies, and rooms for the African hospital orderlies. 

With the help of Monenzali, our loyal carpenter, all this 
work was done in a year, while I carried on my duties in 
the hospital. At the same time a young Alsatian forester 
who spent his vacation in the Ogowe offered his competent 
help. He built a large cement reservoir for rainwater and 
an airy building of the same material, which serves us as 
dining room and common room. 

Toward Easter, 1930, my wife, exhausted by the climate, 
unfortunately had to return to Europe. In the course of the 
summer a new Alsatian physician, Dr. Meylander, arrived. 

The hospital is now known over an area of hundreds of 
kilometers. People come to us for operations who must 
spend weeks on the journey. 

Through the generosity of friends in Europe we were 
able to build an operating room that is outfitted with every- 
thing necessary. We now can store in the pharmacy all the 
medications we require, even the expensive ones needed 


for the treatment of tropical diseases. Further, it makes it 
possible for us to feed the many sick people who are too 
poor to buy their own food. 

To work at Lambarene is now a pleasure, the more so 
because we have enough doctors and nurses to do all that 
is needed without our having to work ourselves to the point 
of exhaustion. How can we thank the friends of the hospital 
who have made such work possible! 

While work at the hospital is still demanding, it is not, 
as it once was, beyond our strength. In the evening I am 
fresh enough to turn to intellectual labor, although this 
leisure-time work is often still interrupted for days or even 
weeks at a time when I become preoccupied with surgical 
and serious medical cases and can think about nothing else. 
For this reason this simple narrative of my life and work, 
which I had planned as my first literary work during this 
present stay in Africa, is taking me many months to com- 


Two observations have cast their shad- 
ows over my life. One is the realization 
that the world is inexplicably myste- 
rious and full of suffering, the other 
that I have been born in a period of 
spiritual decline for mankind. 

I myself found the basis and the di- 
rection for my life at the moment I 
discovered the principle of Reverence 
for Life, which contains life’s ethical 
affirmation. I therefore want to work 
in this world to help people to think 
more deeply and more independently. 
I am in complete disagreement with 
the spirit of our age, because it is filled 



with contempt for thought. We have come to doubt 
whether thinking will ever be capable of answering ques- 
tions about the universe and our relationship to it in a way 
that would give meaning and substance to our lives. 

Today, in addition to that neglect of thought, there is 
also a mistrust of it. The organized political, social, and 
religious associations of our time are at work convincing 
the individual not to develop his convictions through his 
own thinking but to assimilate the ideas they present to 
him. Any man who thinks for himself is to them inconve- 
nient and even ominous. He does not offer sufficient guar- 
antee that he will merge into the organization. 

Corporate bodies do not look for their strength in ideas 
and in the values of the people for whom they are respon- 
sible. They try to achieve the greatest possible uniformity. 
They believe that in this way they hold the greatest power, 
offensive as well as defensive. 

Hence the spirit of the age, instead of deploring the fact 
that thought seems to be unequal to its task, rejoices in it 
and gives it no credit for what, in spite of its imperfections, 
it has already accomplished. Against all the evidence it 
refuses to admit that human progress up until today has 
come about through the efforts of thought. It will not rec- 
ognize that thought may in the future accomplish what it 
has not yet achieved. The spirit of the age ignores such 
considerations. Its only concern is to discredit individual 
thought in every possible way. 

Man today is exposed throughout his life to influences 
that try to rob him of all confidence in his own thinking. 
He lives in an atmosphere of intellectual dependence, 
which surrounds him and manifests itself in everything he 
hears or reads. It is in the people whom he meets every 

Epilogue 225 

day; it is in the political parties and associations that have 
claimed him as their own; it pervades all the circumstances 
of his life. 

From every side and in the most varied ways it is ham- 
mered into him that the truths and convictions that he 
needs for life must be taken away from the associations that 
have rights over him. The spirit of the age never lets him 
find himself. Over and over again, convictions are forced 
upon him just as he is exposed, in big cities, to glaring 
neon signs of companies that are rich enough to install them 
and enjoin him at every step to give preference to one or 
another shoe polish or soup mix. 

By the spirit of the age, then, the man of today is forced 
into skepticism about his own thinking, so that he may 
become receptive to what he receives from authority. He 
cannot resist this influence because he is overworked, dis- 
tracted, and incapable of concentrating. Moreover, the ma- 
terial dependence that is his lot has an effect on his mind, 
so he finally believes that he is not qualified to come to his 
own conclusions. 

His self-confidence is also affected by the prodigious de- 
velopments in knowledge. He cannot comprehend or as- 
similate the new discoveries. He is forced to accept them 
as givens, although he does not understand them. As a 
result of this attitude toward scientific truth he begins to 
doubt his own judgment in other spheres of thought. 

Thus the circumstances of the age do their best to deliver 
us to the spirit of the age. The seed of skepticism has 
germinated. In fact, modem man no longer has any con- 
fidence in himself. Behind a self-assured exterior he con- 
^cBsds an inner lack of confidence. In spite of his great 
technological achievements and material possessions, he is 


an altogether stunted being, because he makes no use of 
his capacity for thinking. It will always remain incompre- 
hensible that our generation, which has shown itself so great 
by its discoveries and inventions, could fall so low in the 
realm of thought. 

In a period that ridicules as antiquated and without value 
whatever seems akin to rational or independent thought, 
and which even mocks the inalienable human rights pro- 
claimed in the eighteenth century, I declare myself to be 
one who places all his confidence in rational thinking. I 
venture to tell our generation that it is not at the end of 
rationalism just because past rationalism first gave way to 
romanticism and later to a pretended realism that reigned 
in intellectual as well as in material life. When we have 
passed through all the follies of the so-called universal real- 
politik, and because of it suffered spiritual misery, there 
will be no other choice but to turn to a new rationalism 
more profound and more effective than that of the past. To 
renounce thinking is to declare mental bankruptcy. 

When we give up the conviction that we can arrive at 
s the truth through thinking, skepticism appears. Those who 
Y work toward greater skepticism in our age expect that by 
denouncing all hope of self-discovered truth, men will come 
to accept as true whatever is forced upon them by authority 
and by propaganda. 

But their calculations are mistaken. Whoever opens the 
sluices to let a flood of skepticism pour over the land cannot 
assume that later he can stem the flood. Only a few of those 
who give up the search for truth will be so docile as to 
submit once and for all to official doctrine. The mass of 

Epilogue 227 

people will remain skeptical. They lose all desire for truth, 
finding themselves quite comfortable in a life without 
thought, driven now here, now there, from one opinion to 

But merely accepting authoritarian truth, even if that 
truth has some virtue, does not bring skepticism to an end. 
To blindly accept a truth one has never reflected upon 
retards the advance of reason. Our world rots in deceit. 
Our very attempt to manipulate truth itself brings us to the 
brink of disaster. 

Truth based on a skepticism that has become belief has ^ 
not the spiritual qualities of truth that originated in thought. 

It is superficial and inflexible. It exerts an influence over 
man, but it cannot reach his inner being. Living truth is 
only that which has its origin in thought. ^ 

Just as a tree bears the same fruit year after year and at 
the same time fruit that is new each year, so must all per- 
manently valuable ideas be continually created anew in 
thought. But our age pretends to make a sterile tree bear 
fruit by tying fruits of truth onto its branches. 

Only when we gain the confidence that we can find 
the truth through our own individual thought will we 
be able to arrive at living truth. Independent thought, 
provided it is profound, never degenerates into subjec- 
tivity. What is true in our tradition will be brought to 
light through deep thought, and it can become the force 
of reason in us. The will to sincerity must be as strong as 
the will to truth. Only an age that has the courage of con- 
viction can possess truth that works as a force of spirit and 
of reason. 

Sincerity is the foundation of the life of mind and spirit. 
With its disdain for thinking, our generation has lost its 


feeling for sincerity. It can therefore be helped only by 
reviving the voice of thought. 

Because I have this certainty, I oppose the spirit of the age 
and accept with confidence the responsibility for contrib- 
uting to the rekindling of the fire of thought. 

The concept of Reverence for Life is by its very nature 
especially well qualified to take up the struggle against 
skepticism. It is elemental. 

/ Elemental thinking starts from fundamental questions 
about the relationship of man to the universe, about the 
meaning of life, and about the nature of what is good. It is 
( directly linked to the thought that motivates all people. It 
I penetrates our thought, enlarges and deepens it, and makes 
! it more profound. 

We find such elemental thinking i n Stoicism. When as 
a student I began to study the history of philosophy, I found 
it difficult to tear myself away from Stoicism and to make 
my way through the utterly different thinking that suc- 
ceeded it. It is true that the results of Stoic thought did 
not satisfy me, but I had the feeling that this simple kind 
of philosophizing was the right one. I could not understand 
how people had come to abandon it. 

Stoicism seemed to me great in that it goes straight for 
its goal, is universally intelligible and at the same time 
profound. It makes the best of what it recognizes as truth, 
even if it is not completely satisfying. It puts life into that 
truth by seriously devoting itself to it. It possesses the spirit 
of sincerity and urges men to gather their thoughts and to 
become more inward. It arouses in them a sense of re- 
sponsibility. It also seemed to me that the fundamental 

Epilogue 229 

tenet of Stoicism is correct, namely that man must bring 
himself into a spiritual relation with the world and become 
one with it. In its essence, Stoicism is a natural philosophy 
that ends in mysticism. 

Just as I felt Stoicism to be elemental, so I felt that the 
thought of Lao-tse was the same when I became acquainted 
with his Tao-te-king. For him, too, it is important that man 
come, by simple thought, into a spiritual relation with the 
world and prove his unity with it by his life. 

There is, therefore, an essential relationship between 
Greek Stoicism and Chinese philosophy. The difference 
between them is that the first had its origin in well- 
developed, logical thinking, the second in intuitive thinking 
that was undeveloped yet marvelously profound. 

This elemental thinking, however, which emerges in Eu- 
ropean as in Far Eastern philosophy, has not been able to 
maintain the position of leadership that it should occupy 
within systems of thought. It is unsuccessful because its 
conclusions do not satisfy our needs. 

Stoic thought neglects the impulse that leads to ethical 
acts that manifest themselves in the will to live as it evolved 
with the intellectual and spiritual development of man. 
Hence Greek Stoicism goes no further than the ideal of 
resignation, Lao-tse no further than the benign passivity 
that to us Europeans seems so curious and paradoxical. 

The history of philosophy documents that the thoughts 
of ethical affirmation of life, which are natural to man, can- 
not be content with the results of simple logical thinking 
about man and his relationship to the universe. They cannot 
integrate themselves. Logical thought is forced to take de- 
tours via which it hopes to arrive at its goal. The detours 
logic has to take lead primarily to an interpretation of the 


universe in which ethical action has meaning and purpose. 

In the late Stoicism of Epictetus, of Marcus Aurelius, 
and of Seneca, in the rationalism of the eighteenth century, 
and in that of Cong-tse (Confucius), Meng-tse (Mencius), 
Mi-tse (Micius), and other Chinese thinkers, philosophy 
starts from the fundamental problem of the relationship 
of man to the universe and reaches an ethical affirmation of 
life and of the world. This philosophy traces the course of 
world events back to a world will with ethical aims, and 
. claims man for service to it. 

In the thinking of Brahmanism and of the Buddha, in 
the Indian systems generally, and in the philosophy of Scho- 
penhauer, the opposite explanation of the world is put for- 
ward, namely that the life that runs its course in space and 
time is purposeless and must be brought to an end. The 
sensible attitude of man to the world is therefore to re- 
nounce the world and life. 

Side by side with the kind of thought that is concerned 
with elemental issues, another kind has emerged, especially 
in European philosophy. I call it “secondary” because it 
does not focus on the relationship between man and the 
universe. It is concerned with the problem of the nature 
of knowledge, with logical speculation, with natural sci- 
ence, with psychology, with sociology, and with other 
1 things, as if philosophy were really concerned with the 
answers to all these questions for their own sake, or as if 
it consisted merely in sifting and systematizing the results 
of the various sciences. Instead of urging man toward con- 
stant meditation about himself and his relationship to the 
world, this philosophy presents him with the results of 
^epistemology, of logical deduction, of natural science, of 
psychology, or of sociology, as if it could, with the help 

Epilogue 231 

of these disciplines, arrive at a concept of his relation 
with the universe. 

On all these issues this “secondary” philosophy dis- 
courses with him as if he were, not a being who is in the 
world and lives his life in it, but one who is stationed near 
it and contemplates it from the outside. 

Because it approaches the problem of the relationship of 
man to the universe from some arbitrarily chosen stand- 
point, or perhaps bypasses it altogether, this nonelemental 
European philosophy lacks unity and cohesion. It appears 
more or less restless, artificial, eccentric, and fragmentary. 

At the same time, it is the richest and most universal. In 
its systems, half-systems, and nonsystems, which succeed 
and interpenetrate each other, it is able to contemplate the \ 
problem of a philosophy of civilization from every side and | 
every possible perspective. It is also the most practical in ! 
that it deals with the natural sciences, history, and ethical 
questions more profoundly than the others do. 

The world philosophy of the future will not result in 
efforts to reconcile European and non-European thought 
but rather in the confrontation between elemental and 
nonelemental thinking. ^ 

Mysticism is not part of intellectual life today. By its 
nature, it is a kind of elemental thought that attempts to 
establish a spiritual relationship between man and the uni- 
verse. Mysticism does not believe that logical reasoning 
can achieve this unity, and it therefore retreats into intu- 
ition, where imagination has free rein. In a certain sense, 
then, mysticism goes back to a mode of thinking that takes 
roundabout routes. 

Since we only accept knowledge that is based on truth 
attained through logical reasoning, the convictions on which 


mysticism is founded cannot become our own. Moreover, 

| they are not satisfying in themselves. Of all the mysticism 
of the past it must be said that its ethical content is slight. 
It puts men on the road of inwardness, but not on that of 
a viable ethic. The truth of philosophy is not proved until 
it has led us to experience the relationship between our 
being and that of the universe, an experience that makes 
us genuine human beings, guided by an active ethic. 

Against the spiritual void of our age, neither nonele- 
mental thought with its long-winded interpretations of the 
world nor the intuition of mysticism can do anything ef- 

The great German philosophical systems of the early 
nineteenth century were greeted with enthusiasm, yet they 
prepared the ground on which skepticism developed. 

In order to become thinking beings again, people must 
rediscover their ability to think, so they can attain the 
knowledge and wisdom they need to truly live. The think- 
ing that starts from Reverence for Life is a renewal of el- 
emental thinking. The stream that has been flowing for a 
long distance underground resurfaces again. 

The belief that elemental thought can lead us today to an 
affirmative ethic of life and the world, for which it has 
searched in the past in vain, is no illusion. 

The world does not consist of phenomena only; it is also 
alive. I must establish a relationship with my life in this 
world, insofar as it is within my reach, one that is not only 
passive but active. In dedicating myself to the service of 
whatever lives, I find an activity that has meaning and 

Epilogue 233 

The idea of Reverence for Life offers itself as the realistic 
answer to the realistic question of how man and the universe 
are related to each other. Of the universe, man knows only 
that everything that exists is, like himself, a manifestation 
of the will to live. With this universe, he stands in both a 
passive and an active relationship. On the one hand he is 
subject to the flow of world events; on the other hand he 
is able to preserve and build, or to injure and destroy, the 
life that surrounds him. 

The only possible way of giving meaning to his existence 
is to raise his physical relationship to the world to a spiritual 
one. If he remains a passive being, through resignation he 
enters into a spiritual relationship with the world. True 
resignation consists in this: that man, feeling his subordi- 
nation to the course of world events, makes his way toward 
inward freedom from the fate that shapes his external ex- 
istence. Inward freedom gives him the strength to triumph 
over the difficulties of everyday life and to become a deeper 
and more inward person, calm and peaceful. Resignation, 
therefore, is the spiritual and ethical affirmation of one s 
own existence. Only he who has gone through the trial of 
resignation is capable of accepting the world. 

By playing an active role, man enters into a spiritual 
relationship with this world that is quite different: he does 
not see his existence in isolation. On the contrary, he is 
united with the lives that surround him; he experiences 
the destinies of others as his own. He helps as much as he 
can and realizes that there is no greater happiness than to 
participate in the development and protection of life. 

Once man begins to think about the mystery of his life 
and the finks connecting him with the life that fills the 
world, he cannot but accept, for his own life and all other 


life that surrounds him, the principle of Reverence for Life. 
He will act according to this principle of the ethical affir- 
mation of life in everything he does. His life will become 
in every respect more difficult than if he lived for himself, 
but at the same time it will be richer, more beautiful, and 
happier. It will become, instead of mere living, a genuine 
experience of life. 

Beginning to think about life and the world leads us 
directly and almost irresistibly to Reverence for Life. No 
other conclusions make any sense. 

If the man who has begun to think wishes to persist in 
merely vegetating, he can do so only by submitting to a 
life devoid of thought. If he perseveres in his thinking he 
will arrive at Reverence for Life. 

Any thought that claims to lead to skepticism or life with- 
out ethical ideals is not genuine thought but thoughtless- 
ness disguised as thinking. This is manifested by the 
absence of any interest in the mystery of life and the world. 

Reverence for Life in itself contains resignation, an affirm- 
ative attitude toward the world, and ethics. These are the 
three essential and inseparable elements of a worldview 
that is the result (or fruit) of thinking. 

Because it has its origin in realistic thinking, the ethic 
of Reverence for Life is realistic, and leads man to a realistic 
and clear confrontation with reality. 

It may look, at first glance, as if Reverence for Life were 
something too general and too lifeless to provide the con- 
tent for a living ethic. But thinking need not worry about 
whether its expressions sound lively, so long as they hit 
the mark and have life in them. Anyone who comes under 

Epilogue 235 

the influence of the ethic of Reverence for Life will very 
soon be able to detect, thanks to what that ethic demands 
from him, the fire that glows in the seemingly abstract 
expression. The ethic of Reverence for Life is the ethic of 
love widened into universality. It is the ethic of Jesus, now 
recognized as a logical consequence of thought. 

Some object that this ethic sets too high a value on natural 
life. To this one can respond that the mistake made by all 
previous ethical systems has been the failure to recognize 
that life as such is the mysterious value with which they 
have to deal. Reverence for Life, therefore, is applied to 
natural life and the life of the mind alike. In the parable of 
Jesus, the shepherd saves not merely the soul of the lost 
sheep but the whole animal. The stronger the reverence 
for natural life, the stronger also that for spiritual life. 

The ethic of Reverence for Life is judged particularly 
strange because it establishes no dividing line between 
higher and lower, between more valuable and less valuable 
life. It has its reasons for this omission. 

To undertake to establish universally valid distinctions 
of value between different kinds of life will end in judging 
them by the greater or lesser distance at which they stand 
from us human beings. Our own judgment is, however, a 
purely subjective criterion. Who among us knows what 
significance any other kind of life has in itself, as a part of 
the universe? 

From this distinction comes the view that there can be 
life that is worthless, which can be willfully destroyed. Then 
in the category of worthless life we may classify various 
kinds of insects, or primitive peoples, according to circum- 

To the person who is truly ethical all life is sacred, in- 


eluding that which from the human point of view seems 
lower. Man makes distinctions only as each case comes 
before him, and under the pressure of necessity, as, for 
example, when it falls to him to decide which of two lives 
he must sacrifice in order to preserve the other. But all 
through this series of decisions he is conscious of acting on 
subjective grounds and arbitrarily, and knows that he bears 
the responsibility for the life that is sacrificed. 

I rejoice over the new remedies for sleeping sickness, 
which enable me to preserve life, where once I could only 
witness the progress of a painful disease. But every time I 
put the germs that cause the disease under the microscope 
I cannot but reflect that I have to sacrifice this life in order 
to save another. 

I bought from some villagers a young osprey they had 
caught on a sandbank, in order to rescue it from their cruel 
hands. But then I had to decide whether I should let it 
starve, or kill a number of small fishes every day in order 
to keep it alive. I decided on the latter course, but every 
day the responsibility to sacrifice one life for another caused 
me pain. 

Standing, as all living beings are, before this dilemma of 
the will to live, man is constantly forced to preserve his 
own life and life in general only at the cost of other life. If 
he has been touched by the ethic of Reverence for Life, 
he injures and destroys life only under a necessity he cannot 
avoid, and never from thoughtlessness. 

Devoted as I was from boyhood to the cause of protecting 
animal life, it is a special joy to me that the universal ethic 
of Reverence for Life shows such sympathy with animals — 
so often represented as sentimentality — to be an obligation 
no thinking person can escape. Past ethics faced the prob- 

Epilogue 237 

lem of the relationship between man and animal either 
without sensitivity or as being incomprehensible. Even 
when there was sympathy with animal creation, it could 
not be brought within the scope of ethics because ethics 
focused solely on the behavior of man to man. 

Will the time ever come when public opinion will no 
longer tolerate popular amusements that depend on the 
maltreatment of animals! 

The ethic, then, that originates in thinking is not “ra- 
tional,” but ir+ational and enthusiastic. It does not draw a 
circle of well-defined tasks around me, but charges each 
individual with responsibility for all life within his reach 
and forces him to devote himself to helping that life. 

Any profound view of the universe is mystic in that it brings 
men into a spiritual relationship with the Infinite. The con- 
cept of Reverence for Life is ethical mysticism. It allows 
union with the Infinite to be realized by ethical action. This 
ethical mysticism originates in logical thinking. If our will 
to live begins to meditate about itself and the universe, we 
will become sensitive to life around us and will then, insofar 
as it is possible, dedicate through our actions our own will 
to live to that of the infinite will to live. Rational thinking, 
if it goes deep, ends of necessity in the irrational realm of 
mysticism. It has, of course, to deal with life and the world, 
both of which are nonrational entities. 

In the universe the infinite will to live reveals itself to 
us as will to create, and this is filled with dark and painful 
riddles for us. It manifests itself in us as the will to love, 
which resolves the riddles through our actions. The concept 
of Reverence for Life therefore has a religious character. 


The person who adopts and acts upon this belief is moti- 
vated by a piety that is elemental. 

With its active ethic of love, and through its spirituality, 
the concept of the world that is based on respect for life is 
in essence related to Christianity and to all religions that 
profess the ethic of love. Now we can establish a lively 
relationship between Christianity and thought that we 
never before had in our spiritual life. 

In the eighteenth century Christianity in the time of 
rationalism entered into an alliance with thought. It was 
able to do so because at that time it encountered an en- 
thusiastic ethic that was religious in character. Thought 
itself had not produced this ethic, however, but had un- 
wittingly taken it over from Christianity. When, later on, 
it had to depend solely upon its own ethic, this proved to 
have so little life and so little religion that it had not much 
in common with Christian ethics. As a consequence, the 
bonds between Christianity and active thought were loos- 
ened. Today Christianity has withdrawn into itself and is 
occupied with the propagation of its own ideas. It no longer 
considers it important to keep ideas in agreement with 
thought, but prefers to regard them as something altogether 
outside of, and superior to, rational thought. Christianity 
thereby loses its connection with the elemental spirit of the 
times and the possibility of exercising any real influence 
over it. 

The philosophy of Reverence for Life once again poses 
the question of whether Christianity will or will not join 
hands with a form of thought that is both ethical and reli- 
gious in character. 

Epilogue 239 

To become aware of its real self, Christianity needs 
thought. For centuries it treasured the great command- 
ments of love and mercy as traditional truths without op- 
posing slavery, witch burning, torture, and all the other 
ancient and medieval forms of inhumanity committed in its 
name. Only when it experienced the influence of the think- 
ing of the Enlightenment was Christianity stirred up to 
enter the struggle for humanitarian principles. This re- 
membrance ought to keep it forever from assuming any air 
of arrogance vis-a-vis thought. 

Many people find pleasure today in recalling how “su- 
perficial” Christianity became in the Enlightenment. It is, 
however, only fair to acknowledge to what degree this “su- 
perficial” character was balanced by the services Christi- 
anity rendered in this period. 

Today torture has been reestablished. In many countries 
the system of justice quietly tolerates torture being applied 
before and simultaneously with the regular proceedings of 
police and prison officials in order to extract confessions 
from those accused. The amount of suffering thus caused 
every hour surpasses imagination. To this renewal of torture 
Christianity today offers no opposition even in words, much 
less in deeds. 

Because Christianity hardly acts on its spiritual or ethical 
principles, it deceives itself with the delusion that its po- 
sition as a Church becomes stronger every year. It is ac- 
commodating itself to the spirit of the age by adopting a 
kind of modern worldliness. Like other organized bodies 
it tries to prove itself by becoming an ever stronger and 
more uniform organization, justified and recognized 
through its role in history and its institutions. But as it gains 
in external power, it loses in spiritual power. 


Christianity cannot take the place of thinking, but it must 
be founded on it. In and by itself it is not capable of over- 
coming thoughtlessness and skepticism. Only an age that 
draws its strength from thought and from an elemental piety 
can recognize the imperishable character of Christianity. 

Just as a stream is kept from gradually drying up because 
it flows along above underground water, so Christianity 
needs the underground water of elemental piety that issues 
from thinking. It can only attain real spiritual power when 
men no longer find the road from thought to religion barred. 

I know that I myself owe it to thought that I was able to 
retain my faith in religion. 

The thinking person stands up more freely in the face of 
traditional religious truth than the nonthinking person and 
feels the intrinsic, profound, and imperishable elements 
much more strongly. 

Anyone who has recognized that the idea of love is the 
spiritual ray of light that reaches us from the infinite ceases 
to demand from religion that it offer him complete knowl- 
edge of the metaphysical. He ponders, indeed, the great 
questions: What is the meaning of evil in the world? How 
in God, the source of being, are the will to create and the 
will to love one? In what relation do the spiritual life and 
the material life stand to one another? And in what way is 
our existence transitory and yet eternal? But he is able to 
leave these questions unanswered, however painful that 
may be. In the knowledge of his spiritual union with God 
through love he possesses all that is necessary. 

“Love never faileth: but whether there be knowledge it 
shall be done away,” says Paul. 

The deeper is piety, the humbler are its claims with 
regard to knowledge of the metaphysical. It is like a path 

Epilogue 241 

that winds between the hills instead of running over them. 

The fear that a Christianity that sees the origin of piety 
in thought will sink into pantheism is without foundation. 
All living Christianity is pantheistic, since it regards every- 
thing that exists as having its origin in the source of all 
being. But at the same time all ethical piety is superior to 
any pantheistic mysticism, in that it does not find the God 
of love in nature, but knows about Him only from the fact 
that He announces Himself in us as the will to love. The 
First Cause of Being, as He manifests Himself in nature, 
is to us always impersonal. To the First Cause of Being that 
is revealed to us in the will to love, however, we relate as 
to an ethical personality. 

The belief that the Christianity that has been influenced 
by rational thought has lost its ability to appeal to man’s 
conscience, to his sinfulness, is unfounded. We cannot see 
that sin has diminished where it has been much talked 
about. There is not much about it in the Sermon on the 
Mount. But thanks to the longing for deliverance from sin 
and for purity of heart that Jesus has included in the Bea- 
titudes, these form the great call to repentance that is un- 
ceasingly working on man. 

If Christianity, for the sake of any tradition or for any 
considerations whatever, refuses to let itself be interpreted 
in terms of ethical religious thinking, it will be a misfortune 
for itself and for mankind. Christianity needs to be filled 
with the spirit of Jesus, and in the strength of that shall 
spiritualize itself into the living religion of inwardness and 
love that is its destiny. Only then can it become the leaven 
in the spiritual life of mankind. 

What has been presented as Christianity during these 
nineteen centuries is merely a beginning, full of mistakes. 


not a full-grown Christianity springing from the spirit of 

Because I am deeply devoted to Christianity, I am trying 
to serve it with loyalty and sincerity. I do not attempt to 
defend it with the fragile and ambiguous arguments of 
Christian apologetics. I demand from Christianity that it 
reform itself in the spirit of sincerity and with thoughtful- 
ness, so it may become conscious of its true nature. 

To the question of whether I am a pessimist or an optimist, 
I answer that my knowledge is pessimistic, but my willing 
and hoping are optimistic. 

I am pessimistic because I feel the full weight of what 
we conceive to be the absence of purpose in the course of 
world events. Only at rare moments have I felt really glad 
to be alive. I cannot help but feel the suffering all around 
me, not only of humanity but of the whole of creation. 

I have never tried to withdraw myself from this com- 
munity of suffering. It seemed to me a matter of course 
that we should all take our share of the burden of pain that 
lies upon the world. Even while I was a boy at school it 
was clear to me that no explanation of the evil in the world 
could ever satisfy me; all explanations, I felt, ended in 
sophistries, and at bottom had no other object than to min- 
imize our sensitivity to the misery around us. That a thinker 
like Leibnitz could reach the miserable conclusion that 
though this world is, indeed, not good, it is the best that 
is possible, I have never been able to understand. 

But however concerned I was with the suffering in the 
world, I never let myself become lost in brooding over it. 
I always held firmly to the thought that each one of us can 

Epilogue 243 

do a little to bring some portion of it to an end. Thus I 
gradually came to the conclusion that all we can understand 
about the problem is that we must follow our own way as 
those who want to bring about deliverance. 

I am also pessimistic about the current world situa- 
tion. I cannot persuade myself that it is better than it 
appears to be. I feel that we are on a fatal road, that if we 
continue to follow it, it will bring us into a new “Dark 
Ages.” I see before me, in all its dimensions, the spiritual 
and material misery to which mankind has surrendered 
because it has renounced thinking and the ideals that 
thought engenders. 

And yet I remain optimistic. One belief from my child- 
hood I have preserved with a certainty I can never lose: 
belief in truth. I am confident that the spirit generated by 
truth is stronger than the force of circumstances. In my 
view no other destiny awaits mankind than that which, 
through its mental and spiritual disposition, it prepares for 
itself. Therefore I do not believe that it will have to tread 
the road to ruin right to the end. 

If people can be found who revolt against the spirit of 
thoughtlessness and are sincere and profound enough to 
spread the ideals of ethical progress, we will witness the 
emergence of a new spiritual force strong enough to evoke 
a new spirit in mankind. 

Because I have confidence in the power of truth and of 
the spirit, I believe in the future of mankind. Ethical ac- 
ceptance of the world contains within itself an optimistic 
willing and hoping that can never be lost. It is, therefore, 
never afraid to face the somber reality as it really is. 

In my own life, I had times in which anxiety, trouble, 
and sorrow were so overwhelming that, had my nerves not 


been so strong, I might have broken down under the 
weight. Heavy is the burden of fatigue and responsibility 
that has lain upon me without a break for years. I have not 
had much of my life for myself. But I have had blessings 
too: that I am allowed to work in the service of compassion; 
that my work has been successful; that I receive from other 
people affection and kindness in abundance; that I have 
loyal helpers who consider my work as their own; that I 
enjoy a health that allows me to undertake the most ex- 
hausting work; that I have a well-balanced temperament, 
which varies little, and an energy that can be exerted with 
calm and deliberation; and that I can recognize whatever 
happiness I feel and accept it as a gift. 

I am also deeply grateful that I can work in freedom at 
a time when an oppressive dependence is the fate of so 
many. Though my immediate work is practical, I also have 
opportunities to pursue my spiritual and intellectual inter- 

That the circumstances of my life have provided such 
favorable conditions for my work, I accept as a blessing for 
which I hope to prove worthy. 

How much of the work I have planned shall I be able to 

My hair is beginning to turn gray. My body is beginning 
to show signs of the exertions I have demanded of it and 
of the passage of the years. 

I look back with gratitude to the time when, without 
having to husband my strength, I could pursue my physical 
and mental activities without interruption. 

I look forward to the future with calmness and humility 
so that I may be prepared for renunciation if it be required 
of me. Whether we are active or suffering, we must find 

Epilogue 245 

the courage of those who have struggled to achieve the 
peace that passeth all understanding. 

march 7, 1931 



January 14, bom in Kaysersberg, Alsace. 
During the year, family moved to Giinsbach. 


First music instruction. 


Attended village school in Giinsbach. 


First played the organ. 

Autumn 1884- 
Autumn 1885 

Attended Realschule in Munster/ Alsace in 
preparation for the Gymnasium. 

Autumn 1885- 
August 1893 

Attended Gymnasium in Miilhausen/ Alsace. 


October, first sojourn in Paris. Studied organ 
with Widor. 


Spring 1898 

Studied theology, philosophy, and musical 
theory at University of Strasbourg. 


248 Chronology 

April 1894- 
April 1895 



October 1898- 
March 1899 






Military service with infantry at Strasbourg. 

Decided to devote life to service of humanity 
beginning at age thirty. 

May 6, passed first theological examination 
before faculty. First publication: Eugene 
Munch: 1857-1898. 

Second sojourn in Paris. Again studied 
under Widor. 

April-July, studied philosophy and organ in 
Berlin. July, received Ph.D. at Strasbourg. 
December, The Religious Philosophy of 
Kant published. Appointed to staff of Church 
of St. Nicholai’s in Strasbourg. 

“Die Philosophic und die Allgemeine 
Bildung” published. July 21, obtained licen- 
tiate degree in theology, Strasbourg. Sep- 
tember 23, ordained as a regular curate, St. 
Nicholai, Strasbourg. 

Publication of The Mystery of the Kingdom 
of God. May-September, provisional ap- 
pointment at St. Thomas theological semi- 
nary in Strasbourg. 

October, appointed principal of the theolog- 
ical seminary in Strasbourg. 

Sees article about needs of protestant mis- 
sion in Gabon. Decides to serve as mission- 
ary there himself. 

Chronology 249 










/. S. Bach le musicien-poite published in 
Paris. October 13, informed friends of de- 
cision to study medicine, serve in Africa. 
October, resigned his post at the theological 

Medical studies, University of Strasbourg. 

The Art of Organ-Building and Organ-Play- 
ing in Germany and France and The Quest 
of the Historical Jesus published. 

J. S. Bach published. 

Third Congress of the International Music 
Society in Vienna. Schweitzer responsible 
for formulation of Internationales Regulativ 
fur Orgelbau. 

Published Paul and His Interpreters. De- 
cember, passed his medical examinations. 

Spring, resigned his post at St. Nicholai. 
June 18, married Helene Bresslau. First two 
volumes of Bach’s Complete Organ Works 
published with Widor. 

February, granted M.D. Psychiatric Study 
of Jesus published. Second edition of The 
Quest of the Historical Jesus published. Vol- 
umes 3-5 of Bach’s Complete Organ Works 
published. March 26, departed for Lamba- 
r6n# with his wife. Arrived April 16. 

First sojourn in Lambar6n6. 

250 Chronology 



Autumn 1917- 
Summer 1918 


April 1921 







April 1924- 
July 1927 

August-November, interned as enemy alien 
at Lambar6n6. 

September, concept of Reverence for Life 
came to him during Ogowe River journey. 

Leaves Africa as prisoner of war, internment 
in Bordeaux, Garaison, and St. R6my. 

July, returned to Gunsbach. Illness. 

Again served at St. Nicholai, and as a doctor 
in the Strasbourg city hospital. 

January 14, daughter Rhena bom. 

In Sweden for lectures at the University of 
Uppsala. Also lectures and concerts to raise 
money for Lambar£n£. Awarded honorary 
doctorate in divinity by the theological fac- 
ulty of the University of Zurich. 

On the Edge of the Primeval Forest pub- 

Lectures and concerts in Switzerland, En- 
gland, Sweden, and Denmark. 

The Philosophy of Civilization published. 
Christianity and the Religions of the World 
published in English; German translation in 

Memoirs of Childhood and Youth published. 

Second sojourn in Lambariine, this time 
without his wife, who remains in Europe 
with daughter. 

Chronology 251 

1925 More from the Primeval Forest, Part I, pub- 

1926 More from the Primeval Forest, Part II, pub- 

1927 January 21, moved hospital to new site near 

July 1927- Lectures in Sweden, Denmark, Holland, 

December 1929 Great Britain, Czechoslovakia, and Switz- 
erland. Concerts in Germany. Presented 
Universal Order of Human Merit at Geneva 
for services to civilization and humanity. 
Presented honorary Ph.D. from the Uni- 
versity of Prague. 

1928 August 28, received Goethe Prize from the 
city of Frankfurt. More from the Primeval 
Forest, Part III, published. 

December 1929- Third sojourn in Africa. His wife joined him 

February 1932 until Easter 1930. 

1929 Selbstdarstellung published. Awarded hon- 
orary doctorates in theology and philosophy. 
University of Edinburgh. 

1930 The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle published. 

1931 Out of My Life and Thought published. 
Awarded honorary doctorate in music. Uni- 
versity of Edinburgh. 

February 1932- In Europe for lectures and concerts. 

April 1933 

252 Chronology 


April 1933- 
January 1934 

February 1934- 
February 1935 



September 1935- 
February 1937 


February 1937- 
January 1939 

March 22, Goethe Gedenkrede, Frankfurt. 
June, awarded honorary doctorate in theol- 
ogy from Oxford and honorary LL.D. from 
St. Andrew’s. July, “Goethe als Denker und 
Mensch,” Ulm. 

Fourth sojourn in Africa, again without his 

In Europe. 

October, Hibbert Lectures, Manchester 
College, Oxford: “Religion in Modem Civ- 
ilization.” November, Gifford Lectures in 
Edinburgh, resulting in separate book on In- 
dian Thought and Its Development, pub- 
lished in same year. 

February- August, fifth sojourn in Lamba- 
r6n£, again without his wife. 

In Europe. Second series of Gifford Lec- 
tures. Lectures and concerts in England. Re- 
corded Bach organ music for Columbia 

African Hunting Stories published in book 

Sixth sojourn in Lambar6n6, without his 


From My African Notebook published. 

Chronology 253 


March 1939- 
October 1949 


October 1948- 
October 1949 


October 1949- 
June 1951 



December 1951- 
July 1952 


December 1952 

February, arrived in Europe; returned im- 
mediately to Lambar6n6 because of danger 
of war. 

Seventh sojourn in Lambar6n6. His wife 
joined him from 1941 to 1946. 

The Jungle Hospital and Goethe : Two Ad- 
dresses published. 

Mostly in Europe. 

June 11, awarded honorary LL.D. by the 
University of Chicago. July, Goethe Bicen- 
tennial Convocation in Aspen, Colorado. 
Goethe: Drei Reden published. 

Eighth sojourn in Lambar^ne. His wife 
joined him until June 1950. 

Goethe: Vier Reden published. A Pelican 
Tells About His Life published in book form. 

July, returned to Europe. Made further re- 
cordings for Columbia. September 16, Peace 
Prize of the West German Book Publishers. 
December 3, elected to the French Acad- 

Ninth sojourn in Lambar6n6. 

In Europe for lectures and recitals. Septem- 
ber, awarded Paracelsus Medal by the Ger- 
man Medical Society. October, speech 
before the French Academy. Received 

254 Chronology 

December 1952- 
June 1954 



December 1954 

December 1954- 
July 1955 


December 1955 

December 1955- 
June 1957 


December 1957- 
August 1959 

Prince Carl Medal, grand medal of the 
Swedish Red Cross. Installed as a member 
of the Swedish Royal Academy of Music and 
awarded an honorary doctorate in theology 
by the University of Marburg. 

Tenth sojourn in Lambarene. 

October, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 
1952. Awarded honorary degree by Univer- 
sity of Kapstadt. 

In Europe. Volume 6 of Bach’s Complete 
Organ Works published with Edouard Nies- 
Berger. April, letter to the London Daily 
Herald concerning the H-bomb. November 
4, Nobel Peace Prize speech, “The Problem 
of Peace in the World of Today,” in Oslo. 

Eleventh sojourn in Lambar6n6. January 14, 
1955, eightieth birthday celebrated in Lam- 

In Europe. Received Order of Merit in Lon- 
don; Orden pour le Merite, Germany; and 
honorary J.D., Cambridge University. 

Twelfth sojourn in Lambar6n6. Helene with 
him until May 22, 1957. 

April 23, first nuclear test ban broadcast. 
June 1, Helene Schweitzer-Bresslau died in 
Zurich. June 21-December 4, in Europe. 
Visited Switzerland and Germany. 

Thirteenth sojourn in Lambarene. 

Chronology 255 







April 28, 29, 30, three addresses over Nor- 
wegian radio about nuclear war. Published 
as Peace or Atomic War. Awarded honorary 
M.D., University of Munster. Awarded hon- 
orary Dr. Theol., Tubingen. 

March 23, awarded Sonning Prize in Co- 
penhagen for “work to the benefit of Euro- 
pean culture.” August to December, in 
Europe. September 29, accepted Sonning 
Prize in Copenhagen. November 18, 
awarded Joseph Lemaire Prize in Brussels. 
December, fourteenth and final departure 
for Lambar6n6. 

January 14, eighty-fifth birthday celebrated 
in Lambar6n6. 

Die Lehre der Ehrfurcht vor dem Leben 

January 14, ninetieth birthday celebrated in 
Lambaren£. September 4, died in Lamba- 

Reverence for Life (Strassburger Predigten) 
published posthumously. 


Selected Titles by Albert Schweitzer 

Note: For all titles the first publication date in English is listed. 

Christianity and the Religions of the World. London: Allen and 
Unwin, 1923. 

Civilization and Ethics. (Part 2 of The Philosophy of Civilization.) 
London: Black, 1923. 

The Decay and the Restoration of Civilization. (Part 1 of The 
Philosophy of Civilization.) London: Black, 1923. 

The Essence of Faith: Philosophy and Religion. New York: Phil- 
osophical Library, 1966. 

The Forest Hospital at Lambarint. New York: Henry Holt, 1931. 
From My African Notebook. London: Allen and Unwin, 1938. 
Goethe. Address delivered on receiving the Goethe Prize in 
Frankfurt. New York: Henry Holt, 1928. 


258 Bibliography 

Goethe: Five Studies. Boston: Beacon, 1961. 

Indian Thought and Its Development. London: Hodder and 
Stoughton; New York: Henry Holt, 1936. 

J. S. Bach. 2 vols. London: Black; New York: Macmillan, 1938. 

The Kingdom of God and Primitive Christianity. London: Black; 
New York: Seaburg, 1968. 

Memoirs of Childhood and Youth. London: Allen and Unwin, 

The Mystery of the Kingdom of God: The Secret of Jesus’ Mes- 
siahship and Passion. London: Black; New York: Dodd and 
Mead, 1914. 

The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle. London: Black; New York: 
Henry Holt, 1931. 

On the Edge of the Primeval Forest. London: Black, 1922. 

Organ-Building and Organ-Playing in France and Germany. 
London: Black, 1953. 

Paul and His Interpreters. London: Black; New York: Macmillan, 

Peace or Atomic War ? Three Appeals. London: Black; New York: 
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1958. 

The Philosophy of Civilization. 2 vols. in 1. New York: Macmillan, 

The Problem of Peace in the World Today. Nobel Peace Prize 
acceptance speech. London: Black; New York: Harper, 1954. 

The Psychiatric Study of Jesus: Exposition and Criticism. Boston: 
Beacon, 1948. 

The Quest of the Historical Jesus. London: Black, 1910. 

Reverence for Life. Sermons 1900-1919. New York: Harper and 
Row, 1969. 

The Story of My Pelican. London: Souvenir, 1964. 

Bibliography 259 

Anthologies of Essays and of Excerpts from Schweitzers 


Cousins, Norman. The Words of Albert Schtveitzer. New York: 
Newmarket, 1984. 

Jack, Homer. On Nuclear War and Peace. Elgin, 111.: Brethren, 

Joy, Charles. Albert Schweitzer. Boston: Beacon, 1947. 

Books About Albert Schweitzer 

Anderson, Erica. The Albert Schtveitzer Album: A Portrait in 
Words and Pictures. London: Black; New York: Harper and 
Row, 1965. 

Brabazon, James. Albert Schweitzer: A Biography. New York: 
Putnam, 1975. 

Cousins, Norman. Albert Schweitzers Mission: Healing and 
Peace. New York and London: Norton, 1985. 

Cousins, Norman. Doctor Schweitzer of LambarinS. London: 
Black; New York: Harper and Row, 1960. 

Joy, Charles, and Melvin Arnold. The Africa of Albert 
Schweitzer. New York: Harper, 1949. 

Marshall, George, and David Poling. Schweitzer : A Biography. 
London: Bles; New York: Doubleday, 1971. 

Picht, Werner. The Life and Thought of Albert Schweitzer. Lon- 
don: Allen and Unwin, 1964. 

Roback, A. A., ed. The Albert Schweitzer Jubilee Book. Cam- 
bridge, Mass.: Sci-Art, 1945. 

Seaver, George. Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind. 
London: Black, 1947. 

260 Bibliography 

Film and Videotape 

The Living Work of Albert Schweitzer. Erica Anderson and 
Rhena Schweitzer. 1965. 16mm film, color, 35 min. 

The Spirit of Albert Schweitzer. John Scudder. Video, color, 33 
min. VHS, Beta or %" format. 


Bach’s Complete Organ Works. Edited by Albert Schweitzer, 
Charles-Marie Widor, and Edouard Niels-Berger. Vols. 1-8. 
New York: Schirmer, 1902-1964. 

Griffith, Nancy Snell, and Laura Person. Albert Schweitzer: An 
International Bibliography. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. 

For further information about Albert Schweitzer, readers are 
welcome to contact the Albert Schweitzer Center, Hurlburt 
Road, R.D. 1, Box 7, Great Barrington, MA 01230 (413-528- 


Adler, Guido, 74-75 
Affirmation of world and life, 
ethical, 57, 90-91, 148, 
150, 151, 152, 153-54, 
157, 158-59, 202-4, 223, 
230, 232, 234, 243 
as AS lecture topic, 186 
connection with ethics, 155, 


AS decision to serve in, 85-95 
AS in, 34, 136-61, 199-200, 
205, 207-15 

AS preparation for, 110-16 
AS reminiscences of, 190-96 
fund-raising for AS work in, 
112-13, 186-87, 198, 205 

African people, 140-41, 209, 212 
patients of AS, 137-40, 209- 
10, 214, 221 

and World War I, 143-44 
Aims of Jesus and His Disciples, 
The (Reimarus), 45 
Albrecht (physician at Stras- 
bourg), 4 

Allgemeiner Evangelische Mis- 
sionsverein, 94 
Amos (prophet), 183 
Animal life, 236-37 
Annotationes in Novum Testa- 
mentum (Grotius), 119 
Anrich, Gustav, 45 
Anthropology of St. Paul (Lii- 
demann), 121 


262 Index 

Antiquities (Josephus), 125-26 
Antoninus, Marcus Aurelius, 
202, 230 

Aristotle, 118, 165-66 
Artistic opinion, 64 
Art of Organ-Building and 
Organ-Playing in Ger- 
many and France, The 
(Schweitzer), 72-80 
Aus meiner Kindheit und Ju- 
gendzeit (Schweitzer), 

Azoawani, Joseph, 138, 139 

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 11-12, 
67, 143, 164, 197 

AS/Widor work on, 117, 128- 
35, 142, 182 

AS work on, 30-31, 33, 51, 
61-70, 107 

Peters edition, 129, 130 
Bach renaissance, 4, 11-12 
Bach Society (Leipzig), 66 
Bagnaud (camp governor), 172- 

Baptism, 33, 34, 123, 219 
Barcelona, 98 
Bauer, Bruno, 124 
Bauer, Hans, 213 
Baur, Ferdinand Christian, 120- 

Bayreuth, 12, 30-31, 65 
Beethoven, Ludwig van, 68 
Being-in-Christ, 217-20 
Bellermann, Heinrich (music 
theory scholar), 11 
Berlin, 22-23 
Bianquis, M. Jean, 114 

Bibliothfeque Nationale, 19 
Binet-Sangle, Charles Hippol- 
yte, 107, 108 

Boegner, Allred, 85, 94, 114 
Book of Daniel, 36, 37 
Book of Enoch, 36 
Bordeaux, France, 115 
Borkehoh (mill engineer), 166- 

Brahmanism, 183, 230 
Braun, Karl Ferdinand, 97 
Breitkopf and Hartel (publisher), 

Bresslau, Helene (wife of AS), 
see Schweitzer, Helene 
Bret, Gustave, 97 
Budde, Karl, 11 
Buddha, 230 
Buddhism, 183 
Burkitt, Francis Crawford, 51 

Cahn, Arnold, 105 
Campion, C. T., x, 190 
Carlyle, Thomas, 89 
Casalis, Eugene, 85, 94 
Cavaill6-Col, Aristide, 22, 74, 
75, 76, 130 
Cezanne, Paul, 19 
Chiari, Hans, 105 
Chinese thought, 151-52, 183, 

Christ cult, 126-27, 128 
Christianity, 126, 150, 183, 184- 

in Africa, 141 

formation of dogma in, 121— 
22, 124 

and historical Jesus, 53-60 

Index 263 

Jewish, 219-20 
primitive, 32-42, 47, 48 
Reverence for Life in, 238-42 
Christianity at the Cross-Roads 
(Tyrrell), 52 

Civilization, 144-46, 147-48, 
151-59, 173 

based on ethical acceptance of 
the world, 183-85 
and colonization, 191-92, 194 
philosophy of, 231 
and worldview, 200-201 
Civilization and Ethics (Schweit- 
zer), 200, 201-5 
Classen, Richard, 166—67, 190 
Clemenceau, Georges, 29 
Cohn (professor of physics at 
Strasbourg), 97 
Colani, Timothy, 49, 52 
Colonization, 190-96 
Communion (sacrament), 13-14 
Cong-tse (Confucius), 151, 183, 
203, 230 

Critique of Judgment (Kant), 20 
Critique of Practical Reason 
(Kant), 20 

Critique of Pure Reason (Kant), 

Cumont, Francis, 122 
Curtius, Ernst, 22, 144, 146 
Curtius, Friedrich, 100-101 

Dale Memorial Lectures, Mans- 
field College, Oxford, 198 
Decay and Restoration of Civili- 
zation, The (Schweitzer), 

Deecke, Wilhelm, 4 

De Loosten (pseudonym for 
Georg Lomer), 107, 108 
Descartes, Rene, 156 
Detachment, 149 
Diaconate of St. Thomas, 84 
Dietz- Harter, Mrs., 198 
D’lndy, Vincent, 97 
Disease, 236 

in Africa, 137, 195, 209-10, 


in Christianity, 121-22, 124 
and missionary societies, 93- 
94, 114-15, 141 
in religion, 59-60 
Dogmatics (Schleiermacher), 13- 

Dolken, Eric, 217 
Drews, Arthur, 125, 127 
Dukas, Paul, 97 
Dutch school, 124 

Egidi, Arthur, 22 
Eichorn, Johann Gottfried, 120 
Enlightenment, 184, 200, 239 
Epictetus, 184, 202, 230 
Epistles, pastoral, 44 
Epistles of Paul, 123-24 
authenticity of, 119-21, 126- 

Erichson, Alfred, 5, 44 
Erlach, Ada von, 101-2 
Erlach, Greda von, 101 
Erlach, Louisa von, 101, 102 
Ernst (pastor in Strasbourg), 

late Jewish, 125 

264 Index 

Eschatology ( cont’d ) 
life of Jesus in, 38-42, 45, 46- 
52, 53, 128 

in Pauline teaching, 118-25, 

Eschatology of St. Paul .... 

The (Kabisch), 123 
Ethics, 154, 157-58, 186, 200, 238 
and affirmation of life and 
world, 202-4 

and civilization, 148, 183-85 
and doctrine of spirit, 218-20 
and Reverence for Life, 157, 

and thought, 152-53 
Evil, 157, 240, 242 
Ewald, Richard, 97 

Faur6, Gabriel, 97 
Fehling, Hermann, 96, 105 
F6r6, Charles, 17 
Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 203 
Ficker, Johannes, 31 
First Cause of Reing, 241 
Fischer, Annie, 113, 178 
Ford, Edward, 163 
Foreign Language Society of 
Paris, 29-30 
Forster, Edmund, 105 
Franck, Cesar, 143 
Frazer, James George, 125 
French Music Festival, 107 
Freund, Wilhelm Alexander, 105 
Fuchs, Hugo, 97 

Garaison (French Pyrenees), 

Gaucher (patient of AS), 164 
Gaudi, Antonio, 99-100 
Gerold, Pastor, 26-27, 180 
Gillespie, Noel, 207 
Gillot, Hubert, 63 
Goethe, Johann von, 15, 30 
Goette, Alexander Wilhelm, 97 
Gogh, Vincent van, 173 
Goguel, Maurice, 52 
Goll scholarship, 16, 25 
Gospel of John, 43-44, 47, 109 
Gospel of Luke, 7, 47 
Gospel of Mark, 7, 14, 36, 47, 
50, 109 

Gospel of Matthew, 7, 8-9, 14, 
36, 47, 50, 109 

Gospels, 13-14, 22, 35, 57, 59, 

AS research on, 10 
authenticity of, 126-27, 128 
in historical research, 46, 47, 
48-49, 50 

and life of Jesus, 38, 42 
preached in Africa, 141 
Greek thinking, 150 
Grimm, Hermann, 22, 144-45 
Grotius, Hugo, 119 
Guibert, Jaure, 139 
Guilmant (organist), 97, 129 
Giinsbach, 28, 178-80, 197-98, 

Haeckel, Ernst, 106 
Haerpfer, Frederic, 80 
Hamack, Adolf von, 21-22, 48, 

Hase, Karl, 48 

Index 265 

Hauptmann, Gerhart, 30 
Hausknecht, Emma, 215 
Hediger (physician at Lambar- 
4n6), 217 

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Fried- 
rich, 106, 203 

in Pauline teaching, 122-24, 

Hepding, Hugo, 122 
Herrenschmidt, Ad£le, 98 
Hesse, Adolph Friedrich, 129- 
30, 133 

Hinduism, 183, 184, 185 
Hirsch, William, 107, 108 
Historical-critical method, 45- 


and religion, 54 

“History of the Last Supper and 
Baptism in the Early 
Christian Period, The” 
(Schweitzer), 34 
Hofineister, Franz, 97 
Holland, 75 
Holsten, Karl, 121 
Holtzmann, Heinrich Julius, 6- 
7, 8, 10, 16, 35, 43, 44, 
48, 121 

Holtzmann, Oscar, 48 
Human rights, 193 
Humanities, 103 
Humanity, affirmation of, 90-91 

Idealism, 91 

Ignatius (Roman historian), 220 
litis, John, 172 

Indian thought, 149, 156-57, 

Internationa] Musical Society, 

“International Regulations for 
Organ Building,” 75—76 
Isaiah (prophet), 40-41, 183 
Islam, 183, 185 

Jacobsthal, Gustav, 11 
Jaell-Trautmann, Marie, 17-19, 

Jager (friend of AS), 25 
Jenseits von Gut und Bose 
(Nietzsche), 64 
Jesus, 59, 150, 184, 235 
AS study of life of, 10, 13-14, 
32-42, 44, 45-52, 107 
death of, 36, 38, 40-41, 48, 

historical, 9-10, 53-60, 125- 

mental illness (theory), 107-9 
public activities of, 7-9, 35- 
38, 42 

see also Messiah 
J6sus Christ et les croyances mes- 
sianiques de son temps 
(Colani), 49 

Jesus Nazarenus (Volkmar), 49 
John the Baptist, 7-9, 10 
Josephus, 125-26 
Jost, Ludwig, 97 
Judaism, 48-49, 107-9, 122-23, 
124, 128, 183, 217 
Jesus in, 107-9 
and the Law, 218 

266 Index 

Judaism ( cont’d ) 

Messianic beliefs, 8 
Justification by faith (doctrine), 
119, 219-20 

Justin (Roman historian), 220 

Kabisch, Richard, 123 
Kaftan, Julius, 21 
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial 
Church, 22 

Kant, Immanuel, 16, 19-20, 32, 

Kaufmann, Robert, 160, 177 
Keim, Theodore, 48 
Kingdom of God, 14, 37, 38-42, 
53, 56-58, 59, 109 
ethical, 36, 46, 48 
Kittel (organist), 130 
Knittel, Pastor, 26-27, 180 
Knowledge, 225, 230-32 
Kottmann, Mathilde, 215 
Kraus, Oscar, 199 
Krull (captain), 6 
Kunstwart (journal), 65 

Ladegast (organ builder), 74-75 
Lagerfelt, Greta, 190 
Lambar^nd mission station, 113 — 
14, 136-61, 162-63, 182, 
187, 188, 198, 208-10 
new hospital at, 210-15, 217, 

Lang, Heinrich, 72 
Last Supper, 13-14, 219 
AS study of, 32-42, 118 
Lauterburg, Mark, 211 
Law (the), 218 

and Christianity, 120-22, 124, 

Ledderhose (professor of surgery 
at Strasbourg), 105 
Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 

Lemmens, Nicholas Jagnes (or- 
ganist), 130 

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim, 45 
Levy, Ernst, 105 
Liberal Protestantism, 52, 93-94 
Lichtenberger, Henri, 29 
Liebrich (pastor), 172 
Life, 104, 235-36 
see also Affirmation of world 
and life, ethical; Rev- 
erence for Life (concept) 
Life of Jesus (Strauss), 47 
Lindblad (publisher), 189-90 
Liszt, Franz, 17 
Lohse, Otto, 12 
Loman, Abraham Dirk, 124 
Love, 219, 240 
ethic of, 37, 150, 238 
religion of, 55, 56, 57-58, 60, 
87, 92 

Lucius, Ernst, 45 
Liidemann, Herrmann, 121 
Lull, Ramdn, 99 
Luther, Martin, 64 

Madelung, Otto Wilhelm, 105, 

Man/universe relationship, 230, 
231, 232 

and Reverence for Life, 233- 

Index 267 

Martin, Emmy, 213 
Mendelssohn, Felix, 143 
M6n£goz, Louis Eugene, 17, 

Meng-tse (Mencius), 151, 230 
Merklin organ, 31 
Messiah, 33, 36, 47, 128 
Jesus as, 8, 39-42, 45, 49-50, 
58, 108-9, 218 

Messianic expectations, 35-37, 

Messianic Kingdom, 9, 36, 39, 
40, 41, 217, 218 
supernatural, 107-9 
Messianic Secret of the Gospels, 
The (Wrede), 45, 49 
Metaphysics (Aristotle), 118 
Mettemich-Sander, Princess, 98 
Meyer, Arnold, 177 
Meyer, Erich, 105 
Meylander (physician at Lam- 
bar6n6), 221 
Millet, Luis, 98-99 
Minder, Robert, 29 
Missionary societies, 92-95, 114 
Mi-tse (Micius), 151, 230 
Mittedungen aus Lamharine 
(newsletter), 213 
Monenzali (carpenter), 213, 221 
Montgomery, W., 51 
Morals, morality, 20-21, 191, 

Morel, L6on, 137 
Moritz, Friedrich, 105 
Mottl, Felix, 69-70 
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 66 
Munch, Charles, 62 

Munch, Ernest, 11-12, 62 
Munch, Eugene, 3-4 
Munch, Fritz, 12 
Miindler, Ernst, 217 
Music, 12, 66-67 
architecture of, 5, 67-68, 133 
AS study of/love for, 2, 3-5, 
11-13, 16-19 

Musiciens d’aujourd’hui (Rol- 
land), 167 

Mystical union (doctrine), 118, 
119, 121, 122-23, 124- 

Mysticism, 123, 185, 231-32 
of being-in-Christ, 218-20 
ethical, 204 

and Reverence for Life, 237- 

Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, 
The (Schweitzer), 22, 34, 
44, 208, 213, 216-22 

Nassau (American missionary at 
Lambar6n6), 113, 138 
Natural sciences, 230, 231 
Negation, 149, 150, 156-57, 

Nessmann, Victor, 211 
Newman, Ernest, 65 
New Testament 
authenticity of, 54-55 
Nietzsche, Friedrich Wilhelm, 
30, 64 

Non-Supematural History of the 
Great Prophet of Naza- 
reth, A (Venturini), 47 
Notre Dame, 22, 74 

268 Index 

Oberammergau, 30 
Ochs, Siegfried, 70 
Ogouma, Emil, 155 
On Heroes and Hero-Worship 
(Carlyle), 89 

On the Edge of the Primeval For- 
est (Schweitzer), 190 
Orfed Catali (Barcelona), 98, 
185, 197 

Organ building, 71-80, 100 
Organs, organ playing, 2, 22, 71- 
80, 130-35, 185 
AS, in Africa, 142-43, 167, 

AS, recitals, 65, 77, 97-98, 
107, 187, 197, 198-99, 

concert, 79-80 
modem, 22, 76, 132, 134 
old, 72-73, 74-75, 76, 78-79, 
132, 133, 187 

Pantheism, 241 

Paris, 16-19, 23, 28-30, 97-100 
Paris Bach Society, 97, 113, 142, 

Paris Missionary Society, 85-86, 
92, 94-95, 113-15, 141, 
Parsifal, 12 

Paul the Apostle, 28, 34, 60, 86, 
141, 240 

AS study of, 117-25, 144 
Epistle to the Philippians, 

mysticism of, 217-20 
Pauline doctrine, 34, 97 

Paulsen, Friedrich, 21 
Paulus der Apostel Jesu Christi 
(Baur), 120-21 

Pfersdorff (professor of psychia- 
try, Strasbourg), 105 
Pfister, Oskar, 205-6 
Pfleiderer, Otto, 21, 121 
Philipp, Isidore, 17, 18-19 
Philippi, Mariah, 113 
Philosophy, 203, 230, 231 
AS study in, 5-6, 11, 15-17, 
19-21, 24-25, 183 
and civilization, 153, 154-55, 

and ethics, 159-60 
secondary, 230-32 
Philosophy of Civilization, The 
(Schweitzer), 34, 144-46, 
159-61, 162-63, 165, 

169, 176, 182, 186, 190, 
197, 198, 200-205 
Philosophy of history, 103 
Philosophy of religion 
Kant, 19-21 
Piano playing, 17-18 
Piety, 240-41 

in music of Bach, 67, 134 
in organ playing, 5, 22 
Politics (Aristotle), 165-66 
Pomeroy-Cragg, Ambrose, 214 
Pourtales, Mdlanie de, 98 
Pre-Messianic Tribulation, 39, 

Progress, 145-46, 201, 224 
ethical, 148, 150-51, 243 
Psalms of Solomon, 36 

Index 269 

Quest of the Historical Jesus, 
The (Schweitzer), 33, 34, 
43-52, 58-59, 61, 65, 
100, 102, 118 
revised edition, 117, 125 

Rationalism, 202-4, 226, 227, 
230, 238 

Realpolitik, 145, 226 
Reason, 119, 203-4 
Redemption through sacrifice 
(doctrine), 121, 122, 124- 

Reformation, 184 
Reger, Max, 143 
Reimann, Heinrich, 22 
Reimarus, Hermann Samuel, 
45-46, 47 
Reinach, Fanny, 98 
Reinach, Theodore, 98 
Reitzenstein, Richard, 122 
Religion(s), 54, 60, 186 
AS study of, 182-85, 205 
and truth, 57, 59-60 
Religion Within the Limits of 
Reason Alone (Kant), 20 
Religious Philosophy of Kant, 
The (Schweitzer), 24-25 
Renaissance, 150-51, 184 
Renan, Ernest, 44, 48, 121, 186 
Resignation, 233, 234 
Reuss, Edouard, 44, 121 
Reverence for Life (concept), 
155-59, 186, 204, 223 
and Christianity, 238-42 
and ethical mysticism, 237-38 
and ethics, 234-37 

and man/universe relation- 
ship, 233-34 
and thinking, 232 
Rhode, Erwin, 122 
Riddle of the Universe, The 
(Haeckel), 106 

Robertson, John M., 125, 127 
Rolland, Romain, 28-29, 167 
Romanticism, 226 
Rosenfeld (professor of psychia- 
try at Strasbourg), 105 
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 64 
Russell, Mrs. C. E. B. (Lilian), 

Sabatier, Louis Auguste, 17, 52 
Sacraments, 44, 123 
St. Matthew Passion (Bach), 197 
St. Nicholai (church), 25-28, 
110-11, 113, 180 
St. R6my de Provence, 172-74 
St. Sulpice (church), 22, 74 
St. Thomas (Collegium Wilhel- 
mitanum), 5, 25, 83, 100 
AS resignation from, 81, 100 
St. Thomas Chapter, 16 
St. Wilhelm (church), 11-12 
Bach Society, 62 
Sanday, William, 51-52 
Scherdlin, Miss, 85 
Schillinger (grandfather of AS), 
2, 71 

Schirmer, G. (publisher), 128 
Schleiermacher, Friedrich, 13- 
14, 120 

Schmiedeberg (professor), 105-6 
Schmitz, Anna, 221 

270 Index 

Schnabel, Miss, 217 
Schopenhauer, Arthur, 4, 30, 
156, 230 

Schorbach, Dr., 119 
Schumm, Charlotte, 181 
Schwalbe, Gustav, 97, 105-6 
Schwander (mayor of Stras- 
bourg), 180 

Schweitzer, Adele (n£e Schillin- 
ger) (mother), 1, 2 
Schweitzer, Albert 
childhood, 1-14 
clerical posts, 25-27 
concerts, recitals, 65, 77, 97- 

98, 107, 187, 197, 198- 

99, 216 

decision to go to Africa, 81-95 
doctoral dissertation, 125 
education, 15-23, 24-25 
friendships, 28-29, 51, 98, 199 
health/illness, 19, 34, 107, 
165, 173-74, 180, 186, 

idea of service to others, 82- 
85, 87, 88-91 
languages, 63-64 
lectures, lecturing, 29-30, 65, 
110, 185-86, 187, 198- 
99, 205, 216 
literary studies, 117-35 
medical service in Africa, 136- 
61, 199-200, 205, 207-15 
medical studies, 33-34, 51, 
65, 96-109, 117 
personal characteristics, 4, 26 

pessimism/optimism, 242-43 

preaching, 25 26-27, 65, 97, 
110-11, 142-43, 182-88 
scholarships, 16, 25 
teaching, 27-28, 43-52, 96, 
97, 199 
works, 12 

on Bach, 33, 61-70, 107, 
128-35, 142 

on organs, 71, 72-80, 100 
translations, 51, 65 
see also under title of indi- 
vidual work 

Schweitzer, Charles (uncle), 19 
Schweitzer, Helene Bresslau 
(wife), 111, 136, 164, 180, 
197, 207, 216, 221 
in Africa, 139, 143, 155, 160 
as prisoner of war, 167, 172, 
173, 175, 178 

Schweitzer, Louis (father), 1-2, 3, 
26, 27, 85, 93, 94, 178-79 
Schweitzer, Louis (godfather), 3 
Schweitzer, Mathilde, 64 
Schweitzer, Rhena (daughter), 

197, 216 

Secretan, Marie, 221 
Secret of Jesus’ Messiahship and 
Passion, The (Schweit- 
zer), 35, 50 

Selly Oak College, Birmingham, 

198, 205 

Seneca, 202, 230 
Sermon on the Mount, 37, 56, 
94, 141, 241 

Sermons of Jesus Concerning the 
Kingdom of God, The 
(Weiss), 50 

Index 271 

Silbermann (organ builder), 74, 
78, 80 

Simmel, Georg, 21 
Sincerity, 227-28 
S infonia Sacra, 107 
Skepticism, 225, 226-27, 232, 

Smith, William Benjamin, 125, 

Social Contract (Rousseau), 64 
Society for the Study of Religion, 

Socrates, 202 
Soderblom, Nathan, 185 
Soderstrom, Elias, 187 
Solms-Lanbach, Graf zu Her- 
mann, 97 

Son of Man, 7, 37, 41, 49 
Sorbonne, 16-17 
Spirit of the age, 223-26, 238, 

Spiritual decline, 223-24 
Spirituality, 239, 241 
Spiritualization, 48, 56 
Spiro (professor), 97 
Spitta, Friedrich, 44 
Spitta, Philipp, 66 
Stalder (physician at Lambar- 
6n6), 217 

Steck, Rudolph, 124 
Stoicism, 184, 202, 230 
Stolz (physician at Strasbourg), 

Strasbourg, 24-31 
AS physician and preacher in, 

Strauss, David Friedrich, 44, 47 

Strohl, Jean, 160 
Stumpf, Carl, 22, 24 
Sudermann, Hermann, 30 
Suffering, 242-43 
Sylva, Carmen, 70 
Synoptics, 6-9, 10 

Tacitus, 126 
fannhduser, 12, 98 

AS study of, 5-6, 11, 13-14, 
15, 25-26, 32-42 
Thiele, Johannes, 97 
Thoma, Agatha, 181 
Thoma, Hans, 181 

and Christianity, 238-42 
and civilization, 156-57, 158, 

elemental/nonelemental, 231- 

and ethical mysticism, 237 
and ethics, 152-53 
neglect of, 224-26 
origin of truth in, 227 
and religion, 60 
and Reverence for Life, 234 
Trensz, Fr6d6rick, 211 
Truth, 103, 154, 225, 226-27, 243 
and religion, 54, 55-56, 57, 

Tyrell, George, 52 

Universal Exposition (London, 
1854), 130 

University of Strasbourg, 112- 
13, 119 

272 Index 

University of Strasbourg ( cont’d ) 
AS at, 5-6, 10-11, 13, 15-16, 
21, 43-52, 197, 199 
Usener, Hermann, 122 

Van Manen, W. C., 124 
Vecchi (camp governor), 166 
Venturini, Karl Heinrich, 47 
Vogl (singer), 12-13 
Volkmar, Gustave, 49 
von Ltipke, Gustav, 65 

Wagner, Cosima, 30-31, 181 
Wagner, Richard, 12-13, 66, 98 
Wagner, Siegfried, 31 
Walcker (organ builder), 74 
Wehmann (teacher of AS), 3 
Weidenreich (professor of anat- 
omy at Strasbourg), 97 
Weiss, Johannes, 50 
Weizsacker, Karl H. von, 121 
What Is Christianity? (Hamack), 

Widor, Charles-Marie, 22, 61, 
64, 86, 97, 107, 143, 147 
AS collaboration with, on Bach 
work, 117, 128-35 
AS organ study with, 5, 16-17, 
19, 28 

Sixth Organ Symphony, 164 
Will, 58, 90, 230 

to create, 237, 240 
ethical, 202-3 

to live, 156-57, 158, 236, 

to love, 237, 240, 241 
to progress, 148, 149-51, 152, 

to sincerity, 227 
to truth, 227 
Will, Pfarrer, 26 
Wincziers (pilot), 101 
Windelband, Wilhelm, 6, 15- 
16, 24, 106 

Wolfenbiittler Fragmente, 45 
Wollenburg, Robert, 105 
Worldview, 55-56, 57, 203 
and civilization, 153-54, 200- 

and will to progress, 151 
World War I, 34, 135, 180-81 
AS as prisoner of war in, 143- 
47, 162-74, 175-78 
Woytt, Albert, 213 
Wrede, William, 45-46, 49, 51, 
52, 123 

Zarathustra, 151-52, 183, 203 
Ziegler, Theobald, 6, 15-16, 21, 
24, 25 

Ztvischen Wasser und Urwald 
(Schweitzer), 189-96 

Family photograph, 1889, of Albert ( middle ) with his parents and his sisters, 
Louise, Margrit, and Adele, and his brother, Paul. Woytt Collection. 

“The House That Goethe 
Built,” 1929. Schweitzer 
was able to build his own 
house in Gunsbach with 
the money he received 
with the Goethe Prize in 

Lagendijk Collection. 

Albert Schweitzer at the 
organ in Deventer, 
Holland, in 1928. 

Dr. Schweitzer played 
concerts throughout 
Europe in order to 
finance his work in 

In 1902, at the age of twenty-seven, Dr. Schweitzer gave his first lecture before 
the Theological Faculty at Strasbourg. During the same period he was principal 
of the Theological College. Woytt Collection. 

On June 18, 1912, Schweitzer married Helene Bresslau. He had known her when 
she was a student, and it was with Helene that he planned to begin his mission in 


Dr. and Mrs. Albert 
Schweitzer with their 
daughter, Rhena, who was 
born on her fathers 
birthday in 1919. Woytt 

In 1917 the Schweitzers 
were interned as 
prisoners of war in 
France, first in Bordeaux, 
then in Garaison in the 
Pyrenees, as shown here, 
and then at St. Remy de 
Provence. Schweitzer 
wears the wooden shoes 
of a prisoner. 

Woytt Collection. 

Late at night, the doctor labors at his writing table in his tiny study/office/ 
bedroom. He expresses deep anxiety over completing his third volume of The 
Philosophy of Civilization. Arnold Collection. 

Albert and Helene Schweitzer (second from right) enjoying a picnic on 
one of the many sandbanks in front of the hospital on the Ogowe river. 
Lagendijk Collection. 

Albert Schweitzer had a special concern and fondness for children 
throughout his life. Here he is awaiting the arrival of his daughter, 
Rhena, with a group of children in 1963. Neukirch Collection. 

In 1961, on his eighty-sixth birthday, Albert Schweitzer received from former 
president Leon M’Ba of Gabon the medal of a grand officer of the Order of the 
Equatorial Star. Neukirch Collection.